By Art Ortega |Staff Writer|
Researchers have discovered that they can determine if you will buy a song by measuring activity in certain areas of the brain.
The secret to this magic trick involves the use of an MRI scan to create digital pictures of your brain while listening to a song.
A study was conducted among 19 participants who all enjoyed similar types of music such as electronica and indie rock.
A music-recommendation program was used to find and play similar songs that the participants enjoyed listening. Although they had never heard the song before, increased brain activity was recorded in the nucleus accumbens, which signified they like it.
The nucleus accumbens is a small region deep within the brain that produces dopamine when we hear a song we like.
This explains why we experience feelings of pleasure and reward when we hear that chest-reverberating bass drop for you dubsteb lovers. Or when that euphoric climax of your favorite symphony is about to unfold for you western classical lovers. Or when Justin Bieber says, “If I was your boyfriend,” for you pop lovers.
“I don’t really know why I enjoy certain music. I just know what I like, what I really like and what I don’t like,” said student Elizabeth Ortega.
“The study helps explain how something as fleeting and intangible as a string of musical notes can be so rewarding,” stated study researcher Valorie Salimpoor, a doctoral student at McGill University in Canada in Music Purchases Predicted by Brain Activity from LiveScience.com.
The participants were given the opportunity to buy the song after they heard a sample. They could bid 99 cents, $1.29 or $2 based on how much they were willing to pay.
Ortega was asked how much she would be willing to pay for Justin Timberlake’s new album. “I would pay $20 for it,” she said.“I really love Justin Timberlake though. I’ve bought all his albums ever since I was a young girl.”
An interesting correlation was drawn from this study. Salimpoor found that an increase in activity in the nucleus accumbens was relative to an increase in the willingness to buy the song.
Another conclusion was also drawn from this study,
“What’s more, as people were willing to spend more money on a song, their nucleus accumbens showed greater co-activity with another brain region called the superior temporal gyrus,” stated Stephanie Pappas senior writer for LiveScience.
The superior temporal gyrus is like a hard drive that stores audio files that you have heard from the past and pairs feelings with songs. When it activates it essentially scans the audio files and finds similar music styles in order to anticipate what feeling to pair with the song being heard.
The participants were more likely to enjoy the new song and pay for it if the music style was similar to other music styles that they enjoyed in the past.
Who would have ever thought that our brain undergoes such complex tasks to appreciate music?
This could be the explanation as to why Christina Aguilera and Pit-bull are in the top eight in the Bilboars top 100 with “Feel This Moment.” A portion of the song has similar musical structure to “Take on Me,” by A-Ha.
“We can look at music as an intellectual reward,” Salimpoor stated. “It’s essentially pattern recognition, and this is something humans are very good at.”