MUSIC, the word itself brings out the inner peace from our soul. The first time I heard the
song, "Believer" I still remember how I felt that energy in my body. I mean the lyrics, the beats, the flame in the song gave me chills. Who among us doesn’t have a similar story about a song that touched us? Whether attending a concert, listening to the radio, or singing in the shower, there’s something about music that can fill us with emotion, from joy to sadness. Apart from this, there is an untold connection between music and our body, which we usually don't know.
Music can inspire strong feelings and bind us so tightly to other people. It gives us the
complete satisfaction for our emotions and feelings. It has been seen that when we hear our favorite music, dopamine is released in the nucleus accumbens, a structure deep within the older part of our human brain. That’s a big deal! because dopamine is released only with biological rewards like eating, being loved for example.
But what happens in our brains when we like something we haven’t heard before?
Ever thought about the reaction of our body cells to the unfamiliar things we do or listen to?
There is an increased interaction between the nucleus accumbens and higher cortical
structures of the brain involved in pattern recognition, musical memory, and emotional
processing when we like hearing something new. When people listen to unfamiliar music, their brains process the sounds through memory circuits, searching for some recognizable patterns to help them make predictions about where the song is heading! Moreover listening to the music which we love keeps our brain young and healthy!
It’s kind of like a roller coaster ride, where you know what’s going to happen, but you can still be pleasantly surprised and enjoy it. Interesting, isn't it? This combination of anticipation and intense emotional release may explain why people love music so much, yet have such diverse tastes in music. One’s taste in music is dependent on the variety of musical sounds and patterns heard and stored in the brain over the course of a lifetime.
Why do we keep listening to the same song again and again and still enjoy it?
Another interesting phenomenon in music is known popularly as the “earworm,” in which a person gets a song “stuck in his/her head.” There is no known cause for the earworm, no reason for the song to be stuck in one’s head. It just is. Earworms are interesting in the way that they are almost an itch that can be scratched by listening to the song in question, or by singing it out loud. The emotional hit off of a familiar piece of music can be so intense, in fact, that it’s easily re- stimulated even years later. If I asked you to tell me a memory from your childhood, you would be able to tell me a memory, but if you listened to a piece of music from your childhood, you would actually feel the emotions. We connect the music to our souls, and that's what brings the change in our human tendency to make our thinking much different among the people we live in.
We, as human beings, have something called a “ musical memory” and all of ours are pretty good. Some are better than others, but most of us can remember how a song goes and can sing along with our favorites. We feel a nostalgic connection to music to go along with the emotions it already arouses in us. We are beginning to understand our own love of music not only as a cognitive reflex but as a true art form. It is obvious that most of us have a lot of questions about these connections, among which some of them might be true while some of them are just imaginations in our minds. But we never stop looking for the answers, don't we?
Annapurna C M