Rock or Classical Music? Which One Makes You Happy?

May 6, 2014

Rock or Classical Music? Which One Makes You Happy?

by Audrey  Hollingshead

You’re in your room. It’s raining outside-practically a monsoon. You want to lift your down mood but can’t seem to find the right thing. Movies? Maybe later. Computer game? Nah, you have to pay to advance to the next level and the game is not that good anyway. MTV? That’s a big ol’ pile of NOPE. Who wants to watch pregnant teens anyway? AH, the radio! It’s been FOREVER since you last turned it on. You dash over and press the power button.

“Classical? Since when did I ever listen to classical?” You wonder as you turn the dial. It Smells Like Teen spirit spills out of the bug eye shaped speakers.

“And I’m definitely NOT from Seattle. Pass…” you turn the dial a few more times getting more and more frustrated. Whatever happened to good music? That kind of music that-YES! The Cars! Shake It Up from The Cars blasts through the speakers and soon you’re dancing around like it’s high school all over again.  Your arms flail about, your feet excitedly jab at the floor and you KNOW you look freakish. But you don’t care-your mood is suddenly higher then the highest note that seems to flutter at your ears. Ah…

Dopamine Dream


Music. We all love it. We all dance to it. Find our favorite song on the radio and we’re bound to bust a move! So what makes music so enjoyable? And why are upbeat songs so good at lifting our feet AND our mood? Dr. Yana Ferguson was wondering the same thing.

She and a group of researchers at Northwestern University set out to answer this question by conducting two studies. In the first two-week study they asked volunteers to listen to music from American composer Aaron Copland before switching to music from low-key European composer Igor Stravinsky. In the next two week-study volunteers only listened to toe-tapping tunes while a control group in BOTH studies listened to nondescript songs. It is unclear whether the volunteers had their brains scanned during the listening, or after, but what WERE clear were the results. Upbeat music activates both the frontal and rear striatum, areas of the brain that deal with awaiting rewards and pleasure. Both these areas also got doused in dopamine, a neurotransmitter that gives you that oh so happy feeling.

So the next time your feeling down turn those tunes up and do the dance to a better mood!

And remember,

Dream Well! Dream Positive!

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