APR 30, 2016 10:52 AM PDT

Your Brain on Music

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet

How does music affect your brain? Let's start with the obvious: Your brain loves it! Hence, why you feel so good when you listen to music.

At the peak emotional time of a song, dopamine is released. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and motivation. It's the same brain chemical released in response to good food, sex, and drugs. Dopamine is also released when your brain is anticipating the peak emotional moment of the song.

Everyone processes music the same way. According to FMRI scans of study participants listening to music, the brains becomes active in regions involved in movement, motor planning, attention, and the auditory cortex. This synchronized brain activity immediately shows that music is processed differently than other auditory stimuli.

Music influences our perception.Try this: Find a video a person doing something neutral, like walking along the beach alone, maybe smiling slightly as he or she thinks of a memory. Watch the video once with happy music and once with sad music. You'll notice how dramatically a happy song or a sad song changes a situation.

Playing a musical instrument also makes you smarter in certain areas. A 2008 study showed that children who had 3 years of instrumental music training under their belt performed better than their non-musical peers on a variety of tests. The researchers hypothesized it was because the musical children had increased reading ability and visual pattern recognition from their years of decoding written music.
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
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