Think classical music is boring? Think again (see below). According to a study by the University of Helsinki, classical music can increase our levels of dopamine, a brain chemical responsible for reward-seeking. According to Montreal psychologists, dopamine plays a large role in regulating drive and motivation; dopamine levels are also a major factor in depression. Listening to classical music is a great way uplift your mood.
How Dopamine Affects Motivation
Rats' brains - especially their reward system - works in a very similar way to us humans. For that reason, there are many experiments done on rats to see what behaviors are exhibited in response to varying levels of dopamine.
A great experiment to look at is when cocaine was tested on rats. Why cocaine? Because cocaine floods our central nervous system (CNS) with dopamine (hence, the increased drive). However, with regular use, the CNS will start to downplay the dopamine, which will require ever-greater doses of cocaine to achieve the same effect (also known as tolerance). Once tolerance is built and the cocaine use stops, dopamine levels drop below normal levels, resulting in symptoms common in depression, such as low drive and motivation.
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The experimenters dosed the rats to built their tolerance, and then stopped dosing to see what would happen when the rats' dopamine dropped below the norm. What they saw was the polar opposite of the initial cocaine highs: very decreased drive and motivation.
How Classical Music Helps With Motivation
Classical music has the effect of increasing the activity of dopamine-producing genes (yes, behavior is genetic. Thus, classical music can mimick the motivational effects of cocaine, albeit not to the same degree.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are not to be misinterpreted as medical, clinical, or any other professional advice. The views expressed are opinions and / or ideas founded on research and clinical experience. These views are meant to provoke awareness and inquiry into various issues, and thus, create an open-minded dialogue, civil discussion, and respectful debate among our readers. Any claims made are subject to change should new studies be conducted that disprove these claims.
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