Now if you’re one of those people that (incorrectly) believes Coldplay are a bit ‘meh’ then we’ve got some great news.
Scientists have discovered that some simple magnetic stimulation to the front of the brain can correct your mistaken views and open you up to the beautiful realisation that they are in fact one of the greatest bands of the last 100-years.
We know what you’re thinking. This definitely sounds like something that’s more at home in a Victorian science-fiction novel but we’re happy to announce that it’s actually completely true.
Researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University have discovered that it is in fact possible to increase or decrease our enjoyment of music by enhancing or disrupting certain brain circuits.
We’ve learnt in the past that listening to music we enjoy activates ares of the brain linked to reward anticipation and surprise called fronto-striatal circuits. What we’ve not explored however is whether these circuits are actually essential to our love of music or if it can in fact be tweaked.
In order to test this theory the team used a non-invasive technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This sends magnetic pulses to either stimulate or inhibit specific parts of the brain. In this case the team used TMS to stimulate the fronto-striatal circuits.
The experiment itself involved three separate sessions where the researchers would excite this are of the brain, inhibit it or do absolutely nothing.
After the procedure the participants were then played some of their own favourite music and also a selection chosen by the research team. As they were listening they were asked to rate in real-time their enjoyment of it and finally were given the option to actually buy the music as a means of measuring their motivation.
Incredibly, the team found that in every example where the circuits had been inhibited a person would dislike the track that they had previously listed as their own favourite.
Equally, the team watched on as participants who had their circuits enhanced would rate the songs far higher than normally.
Now while the study earns merit simply for being fascinating the research can have remarkable implications in the real-world too for people who suffer from addiction.
“Many psychological disorders such as addiction, obesity, and depression involve poor regulation of reward circuitry.” explains Robert Zatorre, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery and the study’s senior author.
“Showing that this circuit can be manipulated so specifically in relation to music opens the door for many possible future applications in which the reward system may need to be up- or down-regulated.”