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Do you tend to use music to elevate your mood, to calm down, or as a background to your work or studies? Well, different people use music for different reasons. It accompanies some people after a breakup, it’s a source of anger release for others, while some others use it to help them focus better. Indeed, music can be therapeutic on various levels and in different ways, as attested to by studies such as this and many others.


When we listen to music, what happens is this: specific brain regions such as the caudate and nucleus accumbens get activated and release dopamine, the happy hormone. This chemical process gives us that kick when listening to our favorite song.


So, there’s actually a science to it. But really and truly, it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that music does tend to help soothe the soul, irrespective of what sort of genre one prefers. Very few pastimes can stimulate the brain as music does. However, recent studies have revealed that slot games also tend to help cognitive function. Indeed, many no deposit free spins slots are complemented with upbeat tunes for this very reason. Apart from making the overall gaming experience more enjoyable, it’s certainly an exhilarating component to the game. But what is it that makes music so enjoyable? Let’s explore!


#1. Musical Surprise


Being a prediction machine, the brain can monitor and predict the musical elements reaching it. If there is an error in its prediction and the level of error is rather low, we tend to feel good, because there is a minor element of surprise.


However, when the prediction error is high, the element of surprise wouldn’t be in the range that produces a good feeling. In this case, the brain simply learns this new combination of sounds and incorporates it in its records to prevent a similar erroneous prediction. Thus, the more we’re exposed to music, the better we become at predicting which notes and chords are likely to follow.


However, as experience might have shown you, there’s a sweet spot between too predictable and too surprising. Recent research shows that listeners tend to enjoy music that strikes a great balance between these two elements.


 #2. Happy Medium: Novelty vs Familiarity


Tying in with the surprise element, do you ever grow an affinity towards a new song, and then find it boring after you listen to it multiple times?  This is where the elements of novelty and familiarity come into play. Essentially, the same song elicited a certain good feeling while it was still fresh, but once it became familiar, our threshold of predictability was exceeded. This dance between new and familiar explains why we tend to seek fresh hits…at the same time, we cannot deny the magic of certain classical songs which tend to have a charm that never fades away. The timeless appeal of many classical songs probably owes to what Nicholas Hudson termed “information compression”.


 #3. Information Compression


According to an article by Nicholas Hudson, a biologist at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the type of music that people appreciate most contains specific patterns that sound complex to the ear but are easily processed by the brain. According to Hudson, this “information compression” works very much in the same way that music compression software reduces the size of audio files by merging similar patterns and removing unnecessary data. Hudson’s research concludes that this reduced level of complexity for the brain renders songs more enjoyable.


How can you maximize the pleasure offered by music?


Neuroscientists in Canada found that music mediates interactions between our auditory faculties and our brain’s reward regions. Interestingly, the pathways mediating these interactions are the same sites that are triggered by stimuli such as alcohol and cocaine.


We are therefore better off maximizing the pleasure of this free and abundant resource. Some ways in which we can “say thank you to the music” include:

ü  incorporating it into our daily schedule, selecting the type of music that best fits the task at hand

ü  learning a new instrument, or even improvising like nobody’s watching!

ü  singing along with no inhibitions, even if you’re a terrible singer! Sing around the house, in the car, on karaoke...invent lyrics, sing to your children!

ü  learning some musical theory or history

ü  watch musical performances: song recitals, orchestras, operas…

The sky is the limit with music!