Emory University scientists studying teenagers listening to new music have discovered tell-tale brain responses that could help predict a song's commercial success.
The new finding offers an insight into the hit-making machinery of the adolescent brain, by documenting involuntary neural reactions to pop music. At the level of cells and synapses, teen-age brains simply find some songs more rewarding to hear, even when the listeners say they don't like the tunes on questionnaires and surveys, the scientists said.
So far, no one knows why.
"The punch line is that brain responses correlated with units sold," said neuro-economist Gregory Berns at Emory's Center for Neuropolicy, who conducted the study with Emory neuroscientist Sara Moore. That makes these neural cells in a brain region called the nucleus accumbens, normally involved in reward, pleasure, and anticipation, an effective focus group. "It is far from being a hit predictor, but it was statistically significant."
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