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  • it's that time of year when, like it or not, holiday music is being piped into every mall, grocery store and gas station.

  • If you're sick of it, sorry, I wish I could help.

  • What I can do is shut a bit of light on the science of music.

  • C.

  • We hear it's I shou have talked quite a bit about music over the years, from whether you can become Mozart to whether your cats like Jingle Bells as much as you do.

  • First, let's focus on something happy, like the music you really love.

  • If you've ever gotten actual chills listening to a song, you're not alone.

  • It often happens with music you adore, and researchers think they can explain why.

  • Here's stuff in to tell us more if you've ever been listening to music and suddenly felt a shiver like a kind of strange chill that runs along your spine and makes the hair on your arms stand on end.

  • Congrats.

  • You've experienced what some people call a skin orgasm.

  • Scientists prefer the term free soul, which is French for shiver, and they happen when your body has a strong emotional response to something like a powerful stretch of notes in a song.

  • But not everyone experiences them, and scientists think that might have to do with small differences in our brains.

  • Free Saul is more than the tingling in your spine.

  • While that chill is happening, the electrical conduct INTs of your skin increases because of small changes in your sweat glands.

  • Your pupils also dilate and brain areas associated with pleasure and euphoria activate as the neurotransmitter dopamine is released in your brain.

  • All of these are the physiological side effects of turning on the neurological reward system that makes you feel good, the same one triggered by things like food, sex and illicit drugs.

  • But why this reward system is turned on?

  • My music is less clear.

  • Son jumps from a quiet note to allowed one or from a low note toe, a high note, often trigger free souls.

  • Unexpected solos, harmonies or sequences and melodies can as well.

  • That might be because those characteristics and music are pleasant.

  • Surprises and new or unexpected stimuli can trigger your autonomic nervous system, the part of your nervous system that deals with all involuntary physical activity in your body, like how fast your heart beats, but what elicits a free soul also varies from person to person, depending on personal tastes.

  • So scientists think your emotional connection to the peace also plays a role.

  • You're much more likely to have one while hearing a song that you like than one that you don't, for example, and they don't just happen with music.

  • They can happen in response to visual stimuli like pictures or movies.

  • You can even have a free solved just by thinking about an emotional event.

  • But not everyone gets them.

  • Studies suggest that between 55 86% of people experience results and a personality trait called openness to experience might explain why people who score highly on that trade often experience intense emotions, have active imaginations and are intellectually curious.

  • And, according to a 2016 study of 100 college students, they have free sounds more frequently when listening to music.

  • The study authors suggests that might be because they're processing the music in a more cognitive, attentive way, which makes them more likely to be emotionally moved by something unexpected in music.

  • Another 2016 study of 20 people added to that by comparing the brains of people who experienced free souls with those who do not.

  • People who do have more connectivity between the auditory cortex, the region which processes sounds and emotional processing centers in the brain like the insula and medial prefrontal cortex.

  • If you're not sure if you've ever had a free soul, well, a devoted subreddit suggests listening to image in heaps, hide and seek or comfortably numb by Pink Floyd.

  • Those songs seem to give lots of people skin orgasms.

  • Happy listening.

  • Wow, Stephan.

  • That's not quite how I describe chills, but thanks for the explanation.

  • But while there are some common features two songs that make us shiver it's safe to say we have pretty different tastes in tunes, and that has a lot to do with our parents.

  • Let me explain.

  • Have you been getting in formation with Beyonce lately?

  • Or maybe you're more of a dead head and think the seventies were the peak of music.

  • A lot of debates about a so called golden age of music come down to personal taste.

  • But can science help explain where your music taste comes from?

  • According to some psychology research, it's probably linked to your memories of different songs, so There's not just one air of timeless tunes.

  • Developmental psychologists have noticed that the memories you form as a young adult tend to state more detailed even as you get older.

  • So in the late 19 nineties, some researchers wanted to see if this pattern was also true for memories of music and if that affected, people's music taste.

  • To do that, they collected a library of songs with one that was popular in each year from 1935 to 1994.

  • Then they rounded up some elderly people in college.

  • Students played them 20 seconds of each song and asked if they had heard it before, if they had memories related to it and whether they liked the older group.

  • Like the songs that were popular when they were teenagers, best, while M.

  • C.

  • Hammer wasn't exactly their cup of tea, and that's basically what psychologists expected.

  • But the younger group was kind of surprising.

  • They like the songs from their teenage years best, but they also recognize and liked popular songs from the late 19 sixties, before they were even born.

  • At the time, researchers argued that the late 19 sixties was the golden age of music since even the kids with their newfangled grunge.

  • We're still listening to those songs.

  • Case closed, right?

  • Well, not exactly.

  • Good science means trying to replicate results.

  • So if that was the Golden Age, other psychologists would see it if they ran the study again.

  • A decade later, some researchers did just that, Using audio clips from the top two singles from the 1955 to 2090 year and Billboard charts, they only tested college students and found a similar pattern.

  • Onley.

  • This time, the golden Age seemed to be in the early 19 eighties, not the late 19 sixties.

  • These psychologists drew a different conclusion because they also asked how old the student's parents were and the Golden Age songs were from when their parents would have been teenagers.

  • Somehow the parents were passing.

  • Their music tastes on to their kids.

  • But it's not like there's a funk gene or a new wave gene that you can inherit.

  • Instead, it's probably an example of the mere exposure effect.

  • Basically, people report liking a thing Maur when they've seen it or heard it before, whether it's a song or even just random shapes, and it's especially true when they're not paying close attention to the thing at first.

  • Like if parents played their favorite songs around their young Children.

  • So there probably never was or ever will be, one golden age of music.

  • But there's likely a golden age for you now that I think about it.

  • All that kind of explains why so many carols from the fifties just won't die.

  • And it must be so much worse for the people who can tell that the high note in that one recording that's played over and over.

  • It's just a little bit off.

  • I'm talking about people with perfect pitch, of course, and it seems like those who have it picked it up in childhood.

  • But, as Hank explains, it might be possible to learn.

  • Have you heard some random music notes?

  • Would you be able to figure out what they were like?

  • Could you just tell that this is a D and that this absolutely in a flat, Maybe you're just great at guessing?

  • Or you could have a rare ability called perfect Pitch, which puts you in the same club as Mozarts.

  • Perfect Pitch, also called Absolute Pitch, allows you to identify musical notes without context, which is especially helpful if you are a musician.

  • Most research seems to say that you have to learn it as a kid, but with lots of practice, it might be possible to develop sort of perfect pitch as an adult.

  • Too many studies suggest that toe have perfect pitch.

  • You need to start musical training around six years old during a critical period of developments.

  • During this time, your brain is figuring out which neural pathways will be useful and which ones that should just get rid of.

  • The key is giving sound meaning like that.

  • This sound is a C, just like learning that the fluffy slobbery thing that cuddles up next to you is called a dog.

  • Also, if you speak a tonal language where pitch affects the meaning of words like Mandarin, you could be more likely to develop perfect pitch, since your brain has been associating different pitches with meaning from the start.

  • But if you're not actively learning musical notes, your brain will get rid of those extra sound identifying connections so it can become more efficient.

  • Most of this research is correlation all meaning that scientists didn't manipulate any variables and like teach babies certain combinations of language and musical notes.

  • But it still makes sense with what we know about how the brain develops.

  • If you miss that critical period of development, researchers aren't sure if you would ever be able to develop true perfect pitch.

  • But some studies have found that adults can be trained to better identify notes, which can last for months.

  • In 2015 paper from the journal Cognition researchers tested 17 university students with various musical backgrounds but no perfect pitch and got a baseline for how well they could name different notes and recreate notes that they've just heard.

  • Then the participants went through training, where they listened to 180 piano notes and were asked to name them and then get corrected when they were wrong.

  • After all that, the participants did the baseline tests again and scored at least 8% better than their scores were still higher for six of them when they were retested about 1/2 a year later.

  • This study and others like it are pretty small, and the participants aren't all that close to the accurate, lifelong perfect pitch that you might develop is a kid, but as long as you're willing to put in the work to learn, it's a least 1/2 step in the right direction.

  • Ah, I guess most of us won't ever be Mozart.

  • Still, you can probably tell if a combination of notes is pleasing or not.

  • Some chords just seem toe work, while others sound like nails on a chalkboard.

  • The thing is, while a lot of us dislike dissonance, the effect isn't totally universal, and that can help us understand why it exists in the first place.

  • Back to you stuff in.

  • Even if you've never had a single music lesson, chances are certain combinations of notes called cords or harmonies sound pretty or two than others.

  • Studies have found that harmonies with note frequencies that are constant meaning they're related by a simple ratio like octaves or perfect fifth just seem to sound nicer than dissonant ones.

  • Even babies and monkeys react in ways that suggests they share these preferences.

  • But why we, like certain musical combinations, isn't completely clear.

  • It might be how we're wired or how were raised or a bit of both.

  • Originally, scientists thought our preferences for certain harmonies had nothing to do with us and had everything to do with the way sound waves interact in the air.

  • When to sound waves or dissonant, they interfere with each other in a way that can cause an annoying wah wah wah effect, sometimes called beats.

  • But there isn't a good explanation for why we'd find that unpleasant.

  • And a 2011 study in the journal Physical Review Letters supported a different explanation that accords, prettiness or ugliness is all in our heads.

  • Literally.

  • The researchers created a simplified mathematical model of how our hearing works, and they set up a simulation of to sensory neurons listening to different tones, which would each send a signal to 1/3 neuron when stimulated.

  • Kind of like how different hair cells in your ears hear different pitches of sound and send a signal to your brain.

  • And the team found that if the two sensory neurons here what we normally call a pretty harmony, their signals arrive at the third neuron at the same time, and the neuron fires once in response to the combined sound.

  • While you're holding the cord, that neuron has time to recharge and send a regular series of pulses.

  • But if it's a dissonant chord, the signals from the two sensory neurons arrive at different times, resulting in an irregularly space train of pulses.

  • So the researchers suggest that what we think of his more harmonious just means the sound causes a more regular neural pattern.

  • According to information theory, the mathematical underpinnings of communicating information regular signals like the's communicate Maur information than each irregular signal does.

  • So it could be that we think they sound better because our brains are able to distinguish and remember those signals more easily.

  • But even though the idea makes sense, the researchers didn't actually test really neurons and real people.

  • And the most recent evidence suggests that musical preferences air more strongly tied to cultural influences.

  • In 2016 researchers surveyed a group of 64 people from the chimney, an Amazonian tribe that doesn't listen to Western music and whose own music is entirely based on solo performances and contains no harmony.

  • When they compared the tribe members perceptions of sounds and harmonies to those of listeners from Bolivia and the U.

  • S.

  • They found that everyone in the study shared some preferences.

  • They all liked laughter more than gasps, for example.

  • But while the chairman they could hear the difference between continent and dissonant chords, they didn't prefer one over the other.

  • To them all, chord sounded equally nice.

  • This doesn't mean that the 2011 brain model study was wrong, necessarily, just that.

  • It's complicated, and both our biology and the music we hear when we're young probably affect what sounds we like.

  • We'll be here when we're young.

  • Condemn finitely, shape our tastes in our perceptions of music.

  • But can it make babies smarter?

  • Lots of products certainly hope to sell parents on that idea.

  • But here's Hank to explain how one study on the effects of music on the brain got blown way out of proportion.

  • Parents want what's best for their kids.

  • They want them to grow up to be smart, kind, productive people.

  • And they'll do almost anything to give their little bundle of joy a competitive advantage, which has led to the strange explosion off the myth that playing classical music for babies might make them more intelligence.

  • You could buy all kinds of classical music for babies, programs that supposedly quote promote brain development.

  • But there is no real evidence that they will actually make your baby smarter.

  • The idea began with a paper published in Nature in 1993 called Music and Spacial Task Performance.

  • Researchers told 36 college students to listen to either a Mozart sonata, a relax Asian tape designed to lower blood pressure or just plain old silence.

  • Then they were asked some questions designed to test their spatial reasoning, for example, what kind of snowflake a cut up piece of paper would look like when they opened it up?

  • The study found that the students average spatial I Q scores were 8 to 9 points higher after listening to music, but the effect only lasted about 15 minutes.

  • But even though this study was tiny and only included college students and found a very specific effect that didn't last very long, the idea was out there.

  • Music could affect the way people think.

  • From there it snowballed.

  • Articles about the study started to generalize the results, saying that music made people smarter.

  • In general, books like the Mozart Effect and then the Mozart Effect for Children helped spread the misconception.

  • More researchers started to study the connection between music and intelligence.

  • Some studies confirmed the outcome of the original study.

  • But other researchers couldn't reproduce the findings.

  • Meta analyses that compared the results across all the studies found only a very small effect, if any at all.

  • It's possible that music causes a slight boost in spatial reasoning, because music and solving those kinds of puzzles both activates similar parts of your brain.

  • So maybe the music is preparing those parts of your brain in some way, like an athlete warming up before a workout.

  • But even if music helps you solve spacial puzzles, that doesn't mean that it makes you smarter.

  • Overall, the Mozart effect does seem to help epileptic patients, though, and a few small studies listen to Mozart.

  • Music made seizures decrease, but as with many things in science, more research is needed.

  • So playing a bit of Bacher Mozart for your baby isn't gonna do any harm, but it won't just like magically make them smarter.

  • Things like good old fashioned talking and reading to your child are much more important for their development, all right, so music isn't magic for babies.

  • But what about the less sapient members of your household?

  • Can pets really get in on appreciating a good ah capella rendition of Carol of the Bells.

  • Yes or no.

  • Maybe here's stuff in with more.

  • Whether it's classical, pop, jazz or hip hop, almost everyone like some form of music.

  • But our appreciation of rhythm and rhyme might not be unique.

  • Decades of research have hinted that animals may also be music lovers, and further study of how different species respond to music may help us to understand how and why the ability to perceive and appreciate music evolved in us.

  • There's no doubt that tow us music is different from other sounds.

  • You know it when you hear that musical sense is called musicality, and it seems that even animals very, very distantly related to us have it to.

  • One group of intrepid researchers tested whether Nile crocodiles could tell the difference between music and simple sound.

  • They used a brain imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging, or F M.

  • R.

  • I, which uses the blood flow in different areas of the brain to estimate activity.

  • Now, if you're wondering how you get a crocodile to kindly sit in a big old machine while you scan its brain well, these were juveniles less than a meter long.

  • They were also lightly sedated and wearing a special helmet so they didn't move their heads too much.

  • And incredibly, the researchers did see different patterns of brain activity when the crocodiles listen to Bach as opposed to random chords, suggesting the music sounded different of them.

  • And many animals can go a step further and actually distinguish between different genres of music.

  • Kitchens can be trained to peck one key if they hear in organ piece by Bach and a different key if they hear in orchestral piece by Stravinsky and even Fish Comptel Blues from Bach.

  • Apparently everyone likes testing with box, but this doesn't tell us whether or not they actually like music to get it, that researchers have looked more closely at how animals react to melodies and beat.

  • In one study, scientists actually created music specifically for cats by using sliding frequencies, a common feature of cat vocalizations and setting the tempo to the same number of beats per minute as purring.

  • The cats were more likely to turn towards an approach speakers, which were playing the special cat music than those playing regular music, suggesting they preferred the feline remix and just like us.

  • Animals seem to find some types of music more relaxing than others.

  • For example, a 2012 study found that 117 kennel dogs slept Maur and spent less time barking when played classical music.

  • Heavy metal, on the other hand, seemed to make them more anxious.

  • And studies and primates, elephants, birds and rodents have all found that at least some kinds of music can chill them out, promote social activities like grooming or reduce nervous or aggressive behaviors.

  • But being relaxed by something doesn't necessarily mean you enjoy it.

  • Perhaps the most convincing evidence that animals actually like music comes from studies that let them freely choose what to listen to.

  • In a 2007 study, when monkeys were allowed to pick between different types of music by moving to different parts of a chamber, they chose law alibis over techno.

  • But if given the option, they preferred silence.

  • That led researchers to conclude that our relatives just don't like music.

  • But some scientists have since pointed out that most studies use western genres, and there are a lot of other types of music out there.

  • So in a 2014 study researchers played three kinds of international music just outside of a large chimpanzee enclosure.

  • 16 study chimps apparently liked West African Akane music and North Indian Raja music, spending much more time near the speaker when they were playing.

  • But they were pretty lukewarm about Japanese Taiko music.

  • It was a toss up between that and silence.

  • Taken together, the science suggests that animals, especially mammals, do have some musical preferences that why do animals like music at all?

  • The answer to that is still a bit of a mystery.

  • In fact, we don't even really know why humans like music.

  • Scientists have a lot of theories about the evolution of musicality, something that musicality may be related to our time in the womb.

  • The ideas that we like study beats and vocalizations because they remind us of our mother's heartbeat and her voice.

  • This would perhaps explain music, preference and mammals, but it's less of a satisfying answer for the egg laying groups like birds.

  • So other researchers think it might have more to do with the importance of understanding vocalizations.