Music sends a pleasant chill through the brain, and scientists can see it


Whether it is Mozart or metal, listening to music can be an intense, even exhilarating experience. Listening to your favorite melodies can leave indifferent memories blissful, while a melodious tune can send chills down your spine.

You can actually see this stressful ‘chill’ feeling on a brain scan; Previous brain imaging studies have linked activation of the brain’s reward and pleasure systems. Now, scientists have analyzed patterns of brain activity associated with blissful musical chills.

In this study, a high-density EEG instrument was used to measure waves of electrical activity in people’s brains, as they listened to music with headphones in their ears and placed electrodes on their skulls.

The research team asked 11 women and 7 men (who said they often experience waves of musical pleasure) to listen to a 15-minute collection of 90-minute sound bites. Excerpts were taken from participants’ favorite chill-inducing music, and other recordings were selected by the researchers.

Previously, research has shown that musical freezing occurs in two stages: anticipation before peak-chill, as the music is forming and increasing pleasure, followed by the second peak pleasure phase.

In this study, 18 music lovers rigged up to an EEG when they felt a cold coming. More than 300 hair-raising, fart-forming chills were recorded, each lasting an average of 9 seconds.

But looking at EEG readings, researchers were able to detect other cold outside of these predicted moments as well.

For example, some people’s results were excluded from the analysis, for example, they experienced a musical void during the experiments.

The good news is that researchers found that there is no correlation between the number of soothing chills and a person’s years of music training – even if you lack musical talent, there is no barrier to chills. You can still enjoy all the music.

Further analysis of the EEG results revealed that when participants experienced a chill and their stimulation increased, brain activity also increased in the prefrontal cortex, the frontal lobe of the brain.

Using an algorithm, the researchers detected this activity, on the surface of the brain, beneath an activation of the orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region that sits above the eye socket, integrating sensory experiences and processing emotions. Does.

They identified two distinct patterns of freezing associated with activity in the complementary motor area (or SMA) of the middle brain and the right temporal lobe, a region that processes sounds and may be related to musical appreciation.

The results are consistent with findings from previous imaging studies that showed activation of these brain regions, which can trigger the brain’s reward systems and the release of the ‘feel-good’ hormone, dopamine.

New avenues for research in studies have also been opened.

“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,” neuroscientist Thibault Chabin from Université Burgundy French-Comé in France he said.

Unlike brain imaging machines, wireless EEG devices are easily transportable and as this study shows, EEG can be a promising tool for measuring musical enjoyment in concert halls or at shows.

Doing so may yield somewhat different results for these laboratory experiments, as the 18 people involved in this study were expected to feel chill-inducing moments.

In addition, further research can tell us more about why listening to live music can be such a rewarding experience, or how sharing good music enjoyment between friends and groups (which some of us Can disappear during these epidemic days).

“We want to measure how the brain and physical activities of many participants are coupled in natural, social music settings,” Chabin said.

“The joy of music is a very interesting phenomenon, worthy of further investigation, in order to understand why music is essential in human life and unlocking it.”

Research was published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

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