Why We Can't Resist Grooving
Why is it that when we hear certain songs, we find it impossible not to move? Even from the moment we are born, we naturally clap our hands to the rhythm of our favorite tunes. Research has shown that dancing to music has an effect on your brain unlike any other.
A recent study showed a fascinating correlation between our walking tempo and our instinctive movements as a reaction to a song. The average walking tempo of humans is about 120 steps per minute, and the study showed that 120 beats per minute (BPM) was the tempo that induced the most micromovements, or subtle body movements, in the majority of its participants. Many participants couldn’t help but move to various other songs with differing rhythms, but 120 BPM was associated with the most micromovements. It was also shown that pulse clarity and rhythm had a significant effect on whether or not participants displayed involuntary movement as a reaction to music. A strong, clear rhythm was most likely to make people move, more so than the lyrics or instruments in the song. Another major factor was anticipation: when you hear the first few seconds of a song your brain already knows it likes, it produces an early release of dopamine.
The combination of music and movement, often executed through dance, constitutes a “pleasure double play” in your brain. Music stimulates your brain’s reward centers, while movement simultaneously activates your sensory and motor circuits. The result is the rare production of 4 feel-good chemicals: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins, collectively known as DOSE, all from just one simple activity.
This type of mental stimulation has shown to help reduce the risk of dementia in elderly individuals, perhaps even more than the mental stimulation required for any other typical leisure activity. Dance was also shown to be therapeutic for people with Parkinson’s disease, which is associated with the loss of cells that produce dopamine. So, the next time you catch yourself moving to your favorite song, don’t be afraid or embarrassed! Dancing to your favorite song is not only fun in the moment, but it may also be beneficial for your future health and wellbeing!