Listening to favourite music can boost learning

Helsinki, Oct 10 (PTI): Want to improve your learning skills? Just listen to your favourite music!

The more we like a song, the more dopamine our brains transmit, a new study has found.

Dopamine is a chemical that helps in the transmission of signals in the brain and other vital areas and also plays an important role in motivation and learning.

"The full power of music, is more than just what meets our ears. By simply listening to music that we like, we can significantly improve (or hinder) our learning process or skills," said researcher Benjamin Gold from the University of Helsinki and Alto University.

Since dopamine plays important roles in movement, motivation, and learning, a research team led by Dr Elvira Brattico set out to see if they could harness the power of music to aid in these dopamine-dependent behaviours.

To do this, they asked volunteers to choose songs they liked and did not like from a list. The volunteers then listened to these songs during a dopamine-dependent learning task that involved a training session followed by a test.

Some people heard a song they liked during both training and testing, some heard a song they didn't like during both sessions, and some heard two different songs (one liked and one disliked).

To learn more about how the subjects interact with music, the researchers also asked them about their musical backgrounds, personality features, and emotional behaviours.

"Interestingly, those subjects who listened to music more emotionally learned the task better when they liked the background music, but those who listened more analytically learned better when they did not," Brattico said.

The therapeutic use of music is rapidly gaining in effectiveness and popularity, and understanding the relationship between music and dopamine in different individuals might prove crucial for developing even more beneficial, personalised approaches, researchers said.

hile obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, addiction, and Parkinson's disease are currently treated with dopaminergic drugs that often involve significant negative side effects such as substance abuse or depression, music might ultimately serve as an alternative or at least complementary treatment, they said.


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