Think about all the music you’ve ever listened to. Everything from Beethoven’s 5th to “Call Me Maybe” are processed through the brain, but what about them allows the brain to say yay or nay? Listen to the latest Question Your World Radio Report from the Science Museum of Virginia to learn more.
So, why do we like the tunes we like? Well, there’s no complete answer just yet, but scientists are learning more and more about our brain and discovering some pretty neat stuff.
First, we must understand that music is indeed comprised of a lot of sound vibrations. So, before we answer the question about why we like music we must understand that what we are really answering is why certain series of sounds feel better than others. To answer this question we must dive deep into the human mind. The brain is comprised of lots of compartments and relays. One of those compartments is called the auditory cortex, this is the part that stores all the sounds you’ve heard in your whole life. Remember those screeching tires, ice cream truck songs, hammers hitting nails, the soundtrack to Lord of The Rings…and so on. All of those sounds are cataloged by the auditory cortex including all the songs and patterns of sound that you've heard in your entire life. Each person’s auditory cortex is totally unique.
In a recent experiment conducted by the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, the brain was studied to see how the auditory cortex communicates with the accumbens nucleus. This is the part of the brain that shows signs of reward and pleasure. In this study they noticed that the accumbens lights up when it hears new music after the song has been filtered through the auditory cortex. Wait a minute…isn’t the auditory cortex different for different people? Yes, it sure is. That's why different people like different music. One possibility is that all the sounds you've ever heard in your life will dictate and determine the desire to hear similar sounds in the shape of new music.
Your stored and cataloged audio experiences could have a lot to do with how you process your opinions on the new sounds you are hearing. Pattern recognition and predictions of where the songs go are powerful processes that the brain computes as you hear new songs for the first time!
The big question now is how will this additional research impact our lives? Well, this could be considered the ultimate targeted marketing plan or the ultimate musical survey. We’ll find out as time passes!
Yet another insight into your complex and unique brain!
Article by Prabir Mehta, Science Museum of Virginia