Whether your favorite song is Bach's "Toccata And Fugue In D Minor" or Lil Wayne's "Let It Rock," your brain reacts to it in the same way.
This finding surprised researchers, who reported their work in Scientific Reports, given the huge range of musical preferences.
When we hear our favorite music, our thoughts tend to shift inward, activating the default mode network (DMN) a network of brain regions that's active when a person is awake but at rest. Our favorite songs also seem to spark a conection between our auditory circuts and the hippocampus, a region responsible for memory and emotions.
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In an experiment the likened to "real-world music listening," the researchers scanned the brains of 21 volunteers listening to three pieces of music: one from a preferred genre, one from a disliked genre and their favorite song. By peeling back the brain patterns affected by rhythm and lyrics, the researchers discovered that the DMN was activated when the volunteers listened to their preferred tunes -- and disengaged while listening to music from a disliked genre. Favorite music ranged from classical to country, with lyrics and without.
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"These findings may explain why comparable emotional and mental states can be experienced by people listening to music that differs as widely as Beethoven and Eminem," the authors write.
Beyond the novelty factor, the researchers hope their work could be used to further study whether people with autism, who may struggle with DMN activity, could benefit from music therapy.