This research shows how listening to favorite music can get your mind into a pleasure zone

We sure have experienced when our favourite song is played at a concert or in car, it fills us with pleasurable emotion, gives us joyful memories and even send a shudder or chill down to our spine.

About half of people get chills when tuning in to music. Neuroscientists situated in France have now utilized electroencephalogram (EEG) to connect chills to multiple brain regions that engaged in activating reward and pleasure systems. The results were distributed in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Thibault Chabin and associates at the Universite de Bourgogne Franche-Comte in Besancon EEG-examined the cerebrums of 18 French members who consistently experience chills when tuning in to their favourite music lists. In a survey, they were approached to show when they encountered chills, and rate their level of joy from them.

“Participants of our study were able to precisely indicate “chill-producing” moments in the songs, but most musical chills occurred in many parts of the extracts and not only in the predicted moments,” said Chabin.

When the participants experienced a chill, Chabin saw explicit electrical activity in the orbitofrontal cortex (a region involved in emotional processing), the supplementary motor area (a mid-cerebrum area associated with development control) and right temporal lobe(a region on the right side of the brain involved in auditory processing and musical appreciation). These regions work together to process music, trigger the brain’s reward systems, and release dopamine — a “feel-good” hormone and neurotransmitter. Combined with the pleasurable anticipation of your favourite part of the song, this produces the tingly chill you experience — a physiological response thought to indicate greater cortical connectivity.

“The fact that we can measure this phenomenon with EEG brings opportunities for study in other contexts, in scenarios that are more natural and within groups,” Chabin commented. “This represents a good perspective for musical emotion research.”

EEG is a non-invasive, highly accurate technique that scans for electrical currents caused by brain activity using sensors placed across the surface of the scalp. When experiencing musical chills, low frequency electrical signals called ‘theta activity’ — a type of activity associated with successful memory performance in the context of high rewards and musical appreciation — either increase or decrease in the brain regions that are involved in musical processing.

“Contrary to heavy neuroimaging techniques such as PET scan or fMRI, classic EEG can be transported outside of the lab into naturalistic scenarios,” said Chabin.

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