Why Our Brains Love Powerful Music

Researchers say emotionally intense music releases dopamine in the brain, the same chemical that creates a sensation of reward while eating good food, having sex or taking drugs.

What's the Latest Development?


Thanks to his research into the emotional content of music, British psychologist John Sloboda might say he has a unique understanding of tonight's Grammy awards. In a study, Sloboda asked music lovers to identify the parts of a song they thought to be the most powerful. "When Dr. Sloboda analyzed their properties, a trend emerged: 18 contained a musical device called an 'appoggiatura'." An appoggiatura creates emotional tension within the listener by clashing an ornamental note with the melody to create a dissonant sound.  

What's the Big Idea?

Your brain's chemistry is behind your emotional reaction to musicand just about everything elsesays psychologist Martin Guhn of the University of British Columbia, who has studied how individuals react to the music of British pop sensation Adele. Other studies confirm that emotionally charged music causes the brain to release dopaminethe chemical that creates the feel-good sensation when we are eating well, having sex and taking drugswhether the song is depressing or uplifting. Has the music industry got us hooked on our own brains?

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Why 'upgrading' humanity is a transhumanist myth

Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.

Videos
  • Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
  • Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
  • Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less