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June 07, 2015

Musical Interlude for a Sunday [Y-not]

This story that appeared earlier this year caught my eye:

When you listen to music you love, your brain responds by rewarding you with a surge of dopamine--the body's built-in reward system. It's the same happy chemical produced when you exercise, eat foods that are rich in salt or fat, or have sex. The dopamine system is generally tied to behaviors that helped humans survive in the days when danger lurked around every corner. So why would music, which wouldn't help keep you alive if you were alone in the jungle, activate the brain's pleasure-center? Dr. Robert Zatorre is quick to point out he's not an evolutionary biologist, but he does have a theory:

"Basically, the brain can be thought of as a problem-solving engine, or a prediction-engine. In other words, we derive pleasure from solving puzzles, from understanding relationships, from seeing patterns in our environment, and from predicting what's going to happen next. Music can be thought of as a microcosm of that; to the extent that there are all different kinds of patterns, rhythms, harmonies, melodies, and different kinds of relationships. If you are able to perceive those relationships, you can also make predictions about what's coming up."

Music certainly has a powerful affect on most of us. And it does seem to be a visceral one. Its utility in helping Alzheimer's patients is being explored (providing dementia patients with music may allow them to be less heavily medicated) and for decades, it seems, parents have put their hopes in the so-called "Mozart effect" on their kids (they may be facing disappointment).

But back to the visceral reactions we have to music. I was getting a ride back to my car dealership the other day (after getting some routine maintenance done) when this song came on the radio:

I was INSTANTLY transported back to junior year of college (and an old boyfriend). Instantly.

Here's another song that always takes me back:

Invariably reminds me of a specific time when I was driving with my husband in New England while on our first vacation together as a married couple.

There are other songs that remind me of moments in my life. My first dance at our wedding was to "Teach Me Tonight" (I snagged my Dad's copy of this album and love every track) and Joni Mitchell's Blue album always reminds me of high school. But there are only a handful of songs that transport me back in time on such a visceral level as the two above. (It's like deja vu all over again -- LOL.)

Which songs take you back?

Open thread.

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posted by Open Blogger at 05:35 PM

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