Nostalgia of the nervous system

Nostalgia of the nervous system

Memories without emotion are meaningless, except for love and medicine.

people always love the music of teenagers.

for example, parents often have a headache about pop songs, but

like to listen to the hit songs of 10 years ago.

in recent years,

psychologists and neurologists have confirmed that

this is not only a cultural phenomenon, but also a nervous system instruction.

because from 12 to 22 years old,

is the time when you become "you".

translator: Shen Zhiying

author: Mark Joseph Stern (Mark Joseph Stern)

when I was in my twenties and working hard, I had noticed a strange phenomenon-- I was more impressed with the music I liked when I was a teenager than any other age group-- but every year in the past, Those new songs on the radio sound like noisy nonsense. On an objective level, I understand that this does not make sense. I can't seriously assert that "Rollout" by Ludacles (Ludacris) ((one of America's best southern rappers and record producers) is artistically better than "Roar" by Katy Perry (Katy Perry) (, but every second of the first song is engraved on my heart, and the latter song looks like an insipid shout to me. If I listen to the top 10 hits of 2013, I will have a headache. If I listen to the top 10 hits of 2003, I will be in high spirits.

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Why are the songs I listened to when I was a teenager more beautiful than any songs I listened to when I was an adult? As a music critic, I am happy to tell you that this is not entirely due to my failed taste for music. In recent years, psychologists and neurologists have confirmed that these songs can retain a strong power in our emotions. Researchers have found some evidence to support the idea that our brains bind us more firmly to the songs we listen to in our teens than the songs we listen to in adulthood-a bond that does not diminish with age. The nostalgia of music, in other words, is not just a cultural phenomenon: it is also a command of the nervous system. No matter how complex our tastes become in other ways, our brains may still stay in the songs we are fascinated by in the drama of adolescence.

to understand why we have a soft spot for certain songs, we need to understand the usual connection between the brain and music. When we first listen to a song, music stimulates our auditory cortex (auditory cortex), and we transform rhythms, melodies, and harmonies into a coherent whole. Starting with the auditory cortex, our response to music depends on the extent to which we interact with it. When you sing a song in your head, you activate (premotor cortex), in the premotor cortex, which plans and controls your activity. When you dance to it, your neurons keep up with the music. When you stare at the lyrics and soundtrack, you activate the parietal cortex (parietal cortex), to help you switch and maintain your attention in different musical stimuli. When you hear a song that triggers your personal memories, your prefrontal cortex (prefrontal cortex), which stores information about your personal life and relationships, will suddenly become active.

but memory without emotion is meaningless-apart from love and medicine, no other substance can stimulate human emotional responses like music. (emotional reaction) (translator: the form of happiness, anger, sadness and fear is a series of responses of the vegetative nervous system. Brain imaging (brain imaging) studies have shown that our favorite songs stimulate the brain's pleasure circuit, (pleasure circuit), pleasure circuit, which releases a stream of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and other substances that affect the nervous system, making us feel good. The more we love a song, the more we experience the joy of the nervous system, the same neurotransmitter chased by cocaine that fills our brains.

Music lights up the spark of neural activity in every body. But for young people, the spark turned into a fireworks show. From the age of 12 to 22, our brains experience rapid neurological development-during which time the music we like seems to be permanently associated with our lobes. When we make a neurological connection to a song, we also create a strong memory that is filled with intense emotions, which are partly due to the rampant growth hormone in adolescence. These hormones tell our brains that "everything" is important-especially the songs that become the soundtrack of our flowering dreams (and embarrassments).

in itself, there are enough fireworks in the nervous system to engrave certain songs in our minds. But there are other factors at play, locking the last piece of music played at the eighth grade dance into your memory almost forever. Daniel Levitin (Daniel Levitin), author of the Science of Music perception: explaining Sensibility with reason, writes that the music we listen to when we are teenagers is fundamentally intertwined with our social lives.I started it.

"We are on our own to discover the music we first listened to when we were young," he told me, "usually through our friends. We listen to some of the music they listen to and think of it as a badge, as a way to belong to a social group. This approach integrates music into our sense of identity. "

psychologist Peter Janata (Petr Janata) of the University of California, Davis, agrees with this social theory, explaining that our favorite music "can be integrated into special emotional memories of our growing up." He also added a possible factor: the rise in nostalgic memory ((reminiscence bump)), a phenomenon in which our memories of life when we were young are more vivid than those of other ages, and remain firmly in our minds until we age. According to the nostalgic memory rising theory, we all have a cultural "life script", which acts as the narrative of life in our memory. When we look back on the past, the memories that dominate this narrative have two things in common: first, these memories are pleasant; second, they only revolve around our teens and early twenties.

Why are our memories of these years so vivid and lasting? Researchers at the University of Leeds offered an attractive explanation in 2008: the most prominent years of nostalgic memory growth coincided with "the emergence of a stable and lasting self". The period from 12 to 22 is, in other words, the time when you become "you". After that, the memory that contributed to this change becomes extremely important for the rest of your life. They not only contribute to the development of your self-image, but also become a "part" of your self-image-an integral part of your self-awareness.

in this process, music plays two roles. First of all, some songs have become their own memories, and these songs have crept into their memories so strongly. Many of us can vividly recall the first time we listened to a Beatles (or Backstreet Boys) song, and decades later, we can still sing it every KTV night. Second, these songs form the background music we feel at that time, which can be said to be the most important years in our lives. The music played when we kissed for the first time, went to prom for the first time and smoked for the first time all belonged to this kind of memory and showed a trace of profundity. We may realize that, in retrospect, the prom wasn't really that impressive. But even if the memory itself fades, the emotional afterglow of being labeled with music still lingers.

these theories may be as interesting as their logical conclusions-you may never love other songs as much as you loved the music you listened to when you were young-which is a little frustrating. Of course, this is by no means entirely bad news: our adult tastes are not bad; our tastes are more mature, so we can appreciate complex aesthetics at the intellectual level. But no matter how mature we become, music is still an escape hatch, bringing our mature brains back to the youthful, pure enthusiasm of our youth. The nostalgia that accompanies our favorite songs is not just a brief recollection of our early years; it is also a wormhole in the nervous system that gives us a glimpse of those years when our brains can happily enjoy the music that resonates with us. The years are gone. But every time we hear the songs we love, the happiness they bring will surge in our hearts again.