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Listening in Fear?

It’s no secret that peer pressure influences many teenagers’ lives.

But a new study has found that adolescents choose to listen to music that has been approved of by their peers rather than because they like it.

The study looked at teenagers listening to music on social networking sites such as MySpace, where a song’s popularity can be gauged by how many times it has been downloaded.

The results suggest that if their musical choices do not match those of others, their brains recoil in fear.

‘We wanted to know, for example with, when you see a four or five-star rating of something, does that make you like it more?’ Gregory Berns, Chair of Neuroeconomics at Emory University told the Times.

Youngsters aged between 12 and 17 were played a track and asked to rate how much they liked it. 

Some of the group were then given the opportunity to see how popular the song was according to how many times it had been downloaded.

After an interval, they were all asked to rate the track again, with participants changing their ratings 22 per cent of the time after finding out the tune was a hit.

More than three quarters switched to match the song’s popularity rating.

Brain scans revealed that the first time the teenagers heard a song, regions associated with reward and pleasure were activated.

On the second hearing, those associated with anxie