We all know music has the ability to lighten (or darken) our mood, but does sound affect us all the same? According to a recent study, no. Researchers in Italy have found genetic factors affecting how individuals are affected by certain sounds. The team believe the finding could pave the way for new therapies for individuals with certain mood disorders.

The study, published in the journal Neuroscience, revealed that a variation in dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2 rs1076560) influences the impact of music and background noise on mood states and emotion-related brain activity. This finding suggests genetic differences in our susceptibility to the influences of both music and sound.

Read: Listening To Extreme Music, Like Heavy Metal, Might Make Sad People Feel Better

"This study represents the first use of the imaging genetics approach in the field of music and sounds in general,” said first author Tiziana Quarto in a recent statement. “We are really excited about our results because they suggest that even a non-pharmacological intervention such as music, might regulate mood and emotional responses at both the behavioral and neuronal level."

piano This is the first evidence that the effects of music and noise on affective behavior and the brain are associated with genetically determined dopamine functionality. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Although more research is required before these findings have medical application, the team explained how this insight into how sound affects different individuals depending on their genetics could pave the way for personalized music-based interventions. It could lead to treatment of brain disorders associated with aberrant dopaminergic neurotransmission, as well as abnormal mood and emotion-related brain activity.

This is not the first time scientists have noticed the effect that certain sounds, particularly music, have on our mood and behavior. For example, in a 2015 study, researchers noted that aggression and anger in reaction to extreme music, such as heavy metal, can help turn angry emotions into happier ones. For the study, individuals were purposely put in situations meant to “induce anger” and then asked to listen to heavy metal and hardcore music. Volunteers explained that the music's energy was able to match their anger, but also enhance positive emotions and help them to feel more active and inspired.

Source: Quarto T, Fasano MC, Taurisano P, et al. Interaction between DRD2 variation and sound environment on mood and emotion-related brain activity. Neuroscience . 2016

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