There is a saying that you can know someone’s personality from seeing their playlist. There is a reason why we connect to the type of music you listen to. Science knows the reason why this happens.
A team of neuroscientists in France published a study linking chills to multiple brain regions key in activating reward and pleasure systems. The study was concluded after an experimentation.
The neuroscientists asked a group of 18 participants to listen to songs they self-described as “chill-producing” and asking them to indicate when they felt chills. Their brains were being monitored on an EEG, which can detect electrical signals emanating from different brain regions, while this went on. The researchers wanted to analyze the activity in the brain when participants felt the chills.
The EEG scans revealed the brain was lighting up in three significant areas, related to emotional, movement, and sound processing. These areas of activities combine to trigger a release of the hormone dopamine, which produces a feeling of ecstasy, emotions, and sensations, resulting in the chills we experience while listening to a particularly stirring piece of music.
This is the same feeling we get when we eat a bowl of our favorite ice cream or get intoxicated. These feelings could be good and bad at the same time. Our brains like this sensation. This could easily lead to addiction. It’s the reason why most of us are not only addicted to our type of music, but why we always crave it.
Good addiction could be seen in exercising on a daily basis, or studying regularly, while the bad addiction could be seen in gluttony—eating more food than we need—or doing hard drugs.
The lead researcher, Thibault Chabin, at the University of Burgundy Franche-Comté in France, believes the results represent a good perspective for musical emotion research and provides opportunities for further study in other contexts.
Chabin’s aim was to “measure how cerebral and physiological activities of multiple participants are coupled in natural, social musical settings.” The small study gives researchers insight on how music affects the brain and, Chabin notes, may be related to an ancestral function of music.