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Turn Off Your Old Dad Rock: Listening To New Music Is Good For Your Brain

Get with the times!

There is something about putting on our trusty music playlist that helps motivate us to take on the day. Listening to an upbeat song as we’re doing the dishes, or a calming track when we need the kids to calm the vibe in the house down when the kids are hyper can really set or pivot the mood for the day. Music does a body good, and we rely heavily on our old favorites, however, listening to new music is good for our brain, too.

In the Pitchfork Review podcast, editor Puja Patel and music editor Jeremy Larson discussed why we can be so hesitant to test out new music, and what happens to our brains when we do. In the podcast, they reference an article written by Jeremy a few months prior, discussing why we find it hard to listen to new music.

According to that article, “most people have all the songs they could ever need by the time they turn 30,” and with access to music on-demand, we have little reason to not stick with what we know, tunes that “can whisk us back to the gates and gables of our youth when life was simpler.”

Well, the answer to that is broken down by science: our brain likes when we try new things, including giving new music a try. A study published in 2013 discovered scientific, evidence-based proof of this when researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University tested this using MRI machines.

During their research, they saw the reward center of the brain light up when the participants listened to new music, anticipating a reward in the form of discovering new music. Our brains literally feed us joy by releasing those happy hormones into our body and all we have to do is try some new music.

This isn’t to say there’s no place for the comfort of what we know and love. Loads of us can use this comfort right now as we navigate parenting and the state of the world right now, and our go-to music never fails us.

Open up Spotify or Apple Music and give out a new playlist in a genre you don’t usually pay attention to a try, and it may just turn your day around. If not, you always have your old one to fall back to.