Music is one of the best art forms out there and it happens to be a good way of killing boredom in multiple situations. For example, you might be doing some chores or driving for long distances, and doing so while listening to your favorite music usually makes things more interesting. However, a recent study suggests that listening to your favorite music too much can cause pleasure overload in your brain.
According to the study, listening to your favorite music floods your brain with joyful memories and pleasurable emotions. Sometimes the music can be so good that it gives you chills. French neuroscientists have been observing neural responses associated with chills and how they are linked to the brain’s pleasure and reward systems. The results of this study were recently published in the Frontiers in Neuroscience journal.
Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté researchers scanned the brains of 18 participants in the study using ECGs. The subjects experienced chills when listening to their favorite music. The researcher also used a questionnaire to collect more data from the participants, such as the exact moments in the music where they experienced the chills. The participants were also required to rate the level of pleasure that they experienced.
“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,” stated Thibault Chabin who was one of the researchers in the study.
What happens when the brain becomes overstimulated by the music?
Researchers found that the orbitofrontal cortex had a spike in electrical activity when the subjects experienced chills. The orbitofrontal cortex is the region of the brain that is associated with emotional processing. There was also an increase in electrical activity in the supplementary motor area which controls movement. The same electrical activity surge is observed in the right temporal robe which is responsible for musical appreciation and auditory processing.
The brain regions work together with the brain’s reward system which releases dopamine otherwise known as the pleasure hormone. Overstimulating the production of this hormone by listening to your favorite music too much leads to a situation where the music becomes less interesting over time.