How Music Makes You Happy

SScience is beginning to study music as a new way to understand human pleasure, according to Music triggers the same happiness chemical (dopamine) as sex, drugs, gambling and food. Music creates emotional arousal and causes changes in a person’s heart rate, pulse and breathing rate.

Scientists study the correlation between music and the release of dopamine in the brain by injecting study participants with a radioactive substance that connects to dopamine receptors. Scientists then played music such as jazz, Led Zeppelin and classical music and watched the radioactive substance circulate through the blood, meaning the the patient had released high levels of dopamine.

In the study, if the radioactive substance binded to the dopamine receptors, that meant the dopamine receptors were free and not being used. When participants listened to music that gave them chills, the radioactive substance circulated throughout the body.

When the participants listened to music that did not give them chills and was less moving, the radioactive substance binded to the dopamine receptors and did not circulate throughout the blood. Dopamine is released in the anticipation and during the chills phase of a musical experience.

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Like sex and drugs, rock ‘n’ roll is addictive! The three are correlated because each involve the release of dopamine. Researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that actively seeking out happiness by listening to music can have beneficial and positive effects on your health and help create more satisfying relationships.

The study discusses consciously deciding that the music will make you happy to have the happy effects. Scientists are currently developing ways to use music to fight and treat disease and treat brain disorders including depression. This is why some think it’s a good idea to get available personal trainer training.

Music is also associated with memories. When you hear the song you listened to during your first kiss, as long as it was a good kiss, the next time you hear that song your brain will recognize and associate the song with the positive activity. Songs really can take you to another time and another place.

Neuroscientists believe we are hardwired to interpret and react emotionally to music. Scientists have discovered that children as young as five months old react to happy songs and the psychological states only increases as we age.

Traits of happy music typically include a faster tempo and a major key. Traits of sad music typically include a slower tempo and a minor key. Even sad songs can make you happy. The cathartic release caused by listening to music causes an emotional release allowing your body to feel better and your mood to boost. Music can also boost the immune system, lower stress hormone, decrease blood pressure and heart rate.

Music therapy has proven beneficial in treating older patients with depression and anxiety, as well. Live music is the strongest music therapy. Live music helps listeners to create social bonds and develop friendships, a key factor in happiness. Turn up your radio, pull out your old records and listen to the good funk to get out of a bad funk.

Adeline Erwin is a fitness coach and health enthusiast living in Australia. She conducts free fitness classes for seniors at her neighborhood’s community center.


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  • The Legendary Frank

    There is also the darker side to music. If music can affect moods then it’s probably that music can provoke violence. In the mid nineteen forties there was a crooner whose song caused a wave of suicides amongst women.

    However I don’t accept this idea that music MAKES us happy or sad or violent. It’s more like we MAKE ourselves happy, sad etc when listening to music. Same in all scenarios. Surely no one can make us happy or sad – we have the power to do that ourselves as Eleanor Roosevelt once famously said.

  • I’ve always been skeptical about stories of kids committing suicide after listening to a metal band and similar stuff. Media loves accusing music in such events a bit too much. Agree with what you say here Frank, although I think the point is just that – that the music affects our mood and can help us “get” into a state of happiness or sadness. We make ourselves happy or sad, but music is a catalyst. If music wouldn’t affect a human, it wouldn’t be art.

  • The Legendary Frank

    I remember my mother telling me about that story about those mass suicides. I’ve just done some research and this article would imo confirm that people did indeed coming suicide after listening to the song “Gloomy Sunday”.

    On the other hand Wikipedia says that the suicides are an urban legend

    Given that people allow their emotions to be affected by music I’d say there’s a grain of truth about those suicides. Defenders of music can’t have it both ways i.e. saying music affects us and then saying that it couldn’t cause someone to take their life.

    I agree with your point that music is a catalyst.

  • Interesting, thanks for the links!