The Science Behind Why Live Music Hits Us in the Feels

March 7, 2024 11:34 am in by
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Have you ever wondered why live music seems to hit you right in the feels? Well, scientists may have cracked the code. A study conducted by the University of Zurich suggests that experiencing live music can tug at our heartstrings more than when we listen to a recording because it triggers greater activity in the part of the brain linked to processing emotions.

In the research, 27 participants with no musical background listened to 12 musical pieces, half of which were crafted to bring on negative emotions such as sadness and anger, while the other half aimed to evoke positive feelings. The participants heard these pieces both as a live performance and as a recording, without knowing which was which.

What’s intriguing is that live performances consistently resulted in increased brain activity in the left amygdala, a brain area closely associated with emotional processing. Conversely, playing the recorded music generated significantly less and inconsistent activity in the left amygdala, aligning with the participants’ emotional ratings of each musical piece post-experiment.

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So, next time you’re at a live concert and find yourself getting all emotional, blame it on your brain’s love for the dynamic and adaptive nature of live music.