Every time we hear one of “our” songs we relive moments occurred many years ago. In just a few seconds, the necessary pathways establish, through synapses and return us, like a trip to the past, perceptions of experiences of our most golden age, youth, years when it seemed that the time was very lazy, quasistatic. It seems as if we had stayed “anchored” with the music of our youth because although throughout life our musical tastes vary, suffice few simple measures of a “those songs” to thrill again, as if the time dimension cease to exist.
The scientists -we recall memories- are nothing more than neural network connections, so we deduce that these “individuals” connections are still significantly strengthened and, also, very sensitive. For some reason? Neuroscience and psychology offer some explanations based on three aspects, though of very different, are interrelated: neuronal traces, socialization and training of our “i”.
First, we must understand that music is merely the result of a perception of our brain from some nerve impulses from acoustic vibrations generated by voice and / or musical instruments. That transduction, acoustic energy action potentials, the effects the auditory system, and associated nerve conveys this information to the cerebral cortex through various parts of the brain (brainstem, limbic system, cerebral cortex). There, are decoded and interpreted the various musical parameters (rhythm, melody, harmony) together with their respective dynamics to finally get a global perception accompanied with the corresponding emotions supplied by the limbic system (Jauset, 2013).
From there, our reaction to music depends on how we interact with it. If we get carried away by the rhythmic content, neuromotor activate stimulated muscles through the peripheral nervous system and will synchronize our body movements with “beat” perceived. If we pay attention to the lyrics of the song, the frontal and parietal lobes also be activated. If I prefer to sing, my prefrontal area increased its activity, even if it is only a mental act, as for the brain is the same “imagine” that “run” since they are activated almost the same areas.
Those events that occur with a high content of emotion are what remain, leaving deep footprints facilitate neuronal memory. Memory is not effective without emotion, and the music turns out to be a potent stimulator. Between 12 and 22 years our brain is subject to rapid development, and music we like remains strongly encoded in our neural networks possibly because of hormonal explosion that accompanies adolescence. These hormones, tell our brain that everything is immensely important, especially songs, they are part of the soundtrack of our teenage dreams.
Neuroimaging show how listening to our favorite songs reward circuits are activated and release a number of chemicals (neurotransmitters) causing us to feel so good. As we like a song, mesolimbic dopaminergic system increases levels of dopamine, similarly (although with lower) which produces cocaine (In Salimpur. et al., 2011). Could this be the cause of music also believes addiction?
The second element to consider is the socializing. We enjoyed music and had fun with friends. It, undoubtedly, our a, close ties of friendship and strengthens the bond of belonging giving us a sense of identity.
Finally, another important element, as cited researchers, is the definition of our “i”, of our personality. This process takes place during adolescence and therefore makes sense that memories involved in it are especially important for the rest of life. Not only contribute to the development of self-image, but an integral part of the sense of self. This is the conclusion the researchers came from the University of Leeds (UK) a few years ago (2008).
The music that accompanied our first dance, our first kiss, first love, It is of great personal importance and it is logical that underlies in the depths of our memory. The songs of our adolescent stage form the soundtrack of the lived and felt in the most vital and momentous years of our life. Now, retrospectively recognize that musical memory is perhaps not as deep as it seemed though his emotional glow continue making vibrate.
Can we think, for, the music heard during adulthood will not have the same meaning or may not impact us like our adolescent stage? Possibly so. But, without falling into pessimism, we value the positive aspects: in adulthood our musical tastes are more mature, which allows us to appreciate the aesthetic beauty of a more intellectual form. Yes, no matter how old we as music remains an escape from our adult brains to return to the passion of our younger years.
The nostalgia that accompanies our favorite songs is not just a fleeting memory of earlier times: this is a deep neurologic footprint (musical worm) which takes us back to those years when our neurons vibrated exultant joy for music that defined us and gave us identity. Those years may have passed, much to our regret, but every time I hear those songs, our beloved and mysterious brain allows us to relive a magical way, the joy and happiness of yesteryear.
Jordi A. Jauset
[Based on the article by Mark Joseph Stern, “Brain in the news” , september 2014, Flight 21, # 8].