Asked by: Ammar El-Beik (Age 12), Winnersh
At a basic level, it is to do with how our brains have evolved to find it rewarding to look for and find meaningful patterns in sound. Research suggests there is something particularly satisfying about a piece of music that is in some ways familiar, but also contains a few surprises.
Music can also make us feel good by amplifying our current mood (think of the ‘pleasure’ of wallowing in a sad song when you’re feeling down); it can also trigger fond or poignant memories. Then there’s the social side: singing along with friends to a new tune from your favourite band fosters a powerful sense of belonging.
Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.