Scanning brains for pop hits. What do you make of this?

Hit songs tap into inherent preferences in our brains. This is the conclusion of a new study that found that songs that become highly popular light up areas of the brain linked to reward and anticipation, regardless of whether listeners say they like the tunes.

In 2006, researchers at Emory University scanned the brains of teenagers while they were listening to little-known pop songs, and asked them whether they thought the tunes would be popular. Four years later, they compared the results to the songs’ sales. It turned out that the teens were no good at guessing which songs would do well. Their brain scans, on the other hand, often registered excitement for many of the songs that did become commercially successful – even if the teens said they didn’t really like the songs. The results are further proof that consumers may not be aware of – or at least want to admit – what they like.

A new field of research – neuroeconomics – studies just that phenomenon, anticipating popular trends by surveying gray matter. “You really can’t fake brain responses,” study author Gregory Berns tells LiveScience.com. “That taps into a raw reaction.”

Read the full story at livescience.

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