If you have ever wondered why your favourite rock records leave you feeling so psyched, the answer lies within the neural impulses that fire whenever we hit play. Rock music certainly isn’t on its own for its ability to get synapses snapping to its tune. However, for this piece, we will focus on the heavier genres and dispel the myths peddled by fundamentalists keen to paint rock music as insidious.
For rock fans, once rock music has stimulated areas of the brain responsible for emotional responses, the benefits can keep on eking into your consciousness, such as increased self-awareness, relaxation, and creativity. Beyond impacting emotions, it can also affect behaviour by encouraging positive social interactions and bolstering trust within a respective community.
It is worth noting that this isn’t the stock psychological response to *all* rock music; instead, any song that you have a special connection to can be positive for your mental health when you immerse yourself in it. Sure, there’s a massive culture around rock n roll, with plenty of its aficionados owing their sanity to it. But any high-energy music, such as anthemic hip hop, and EDM floor-fillers, can achieve the same result.
How Does Rock Music Affect Your Brain?
Rock Music Increases the Happy Hormone, Oxytocin
Every time we play a song, our limbic system, which supports long-term memory, emotion, and behaviour, knows about it. The happy hormones we get from listening to our favourite music can drip-feed us motivation while resonating as rewarding. This motivation mostly boils down to the release of the peptide hormone oxytocin, which plays a pivotal role in our complex behaviour. Oxytocin, which is also released in response to touch, can affect everything from personality traits, group conformity, anxiety, empathy, and social decision making. In short, if someone tells you that they aren’t really into music, run.
Rock Music Can Cause a Flood of Dopamine
The mood-enhancing and reward system related neurotransmitter dopamine also plays a pivotal role in our behavioural, emotional, and cognitive functioning, albeit in a vastly different way than oxytocin. Our brains release dopamine at peak enjoyment; this includes when we get to that heart-stopping riff, mind-bending middle eight or breakdown in our favourite rock records. Part of the reason why enjoy music so much is the challenge it presents to our minds when confronted with the task of deciphering its layers and meaning. Once the reward system is fired-up, we are more likely to stay motivated in other areas of our lives, which mostly rings true in terms of creativity.
Rock Music Provides Incentives to Foster Positive Connection
According to some, rock music also helps to form social skills. If you’ve ever been to Download Festival, or whatever the rock music festival equivalent is in your country, you might be inclined to disagree with us on that one. Screw the neurology of rock music; what compels grown men to scream SLAYERRRRR into the atmosphere through cognitively deprived war cries?! I digressed, but it is true that rock music, like other genres, can help people to foster positive connections with others that share an interest.
Your Favourite Rock Records Ease Anxiety
While rock music isn’t quite as efficacious as sertraline for easing anxiety, it can be a good way to release some of that nervous energy that has amassed around your spikes of cortisol that are released when the fight/flight/freeze response is triggered by one of our modern life trivialities. Studies have proven that heavy music can also lower the heart rate and blood pressure, which may go a fair way in explaining why Keith Richards is still with us. Yet, rock isn’t the most cathartic genre for everyone. Music therapists are far more likely to advise soft pop, world music and classical, but if that isn’t your cup of tea, resort to your most resolving records.
In summary, anger and aggression may be commonplace in rock music, but for rock fans, that doesn’t necessarily equate to the feelings being shared when it is played. It is quite the contrary with rock’s ability to trigger happy hormones, quell anxiety, and leave us with energy and the inclination to foster positive connections with other like-minded heavy music lovers. If you are looking for more rock music to squeeze some dopamine out of, check out our rock music blogs UK. Since 2012, we have been a pivotal platform for up and coming rock artists looking to bring their medicinal aural work to the masses.