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It’s Official, Music Provides Intense Pleasure

It’s been scientifically proven, some of us need our music fix! A brain-scanning experiment was recently conducted that shows humans produce dopamine when listening to music, the same pleasure chemical released when eating or having sex. Here’s the article from CBS News,

Whether it’s the Beatles or Beethoven, people like music for the same reason they like eating or having sex: It makes the brain release a chemical that gives pleasure, a study says.

The brain substance is involved both in anticipating a particularly thrilling musical moment and in feeling the rush from it, researchers found.

Previous work had already suggested a role for dopamine, a substance brain cells release to communicate with each other. But the new work, which scanned people’s brains as they listened to music, shows it happening directly.

While dopamine normally helps us feel the pleasure of eating or having sex, it also helps produce euphoria from illegal drugs. It’s active in particular circuits of the brain.

The tie to dopamine helps explain why music is so widely popular across cultures, Robert Zatorre and Valorie Salimpoor of McGill University in Montreal write in an article posted online Sunday by the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Voices unnecessary for response

The study used only instrumental music, showing that voices aren’t necessary to produce the dopamine response, Salimpoor said. It will take further work to study how voices might contribute to the pleasure effect, she said.

PET scans showed the participants’ brains pumped out more dopamine in a region called the striatum when listening to favourite pieces of music than when hearing other pieces. Functional MRI scans showed where and when those releases happened. PET scans showed the participants’ brains pumped out more dopamine in a region called the striatum when listening to favourite pieces of music than when hearing other pieces. Functional MRI scans showed where and when those releases happened. (Andre Gaumond/www.happiness-seekers.info)The researchers described brain-scanning experiments with eight volunteers who were chosen because they reliably felt chills from particular moments in some favourite pieces of music. That characteristic let the experimenters study how the brain handles both anticipation and arrival of a musical rush.

Results suggested that people who enjoy music but don’t feel chills are also experiencing dopamine’s effects, Zatorre said.

PET scans showed the participants’ brains pumped out more dopamine in a region called the striatum when listening to favourite pieces of music than when hearing other pieces. Functional MRI scans showed where and when those releases happened.

via CBC News – Music – Music rewards brain like sex or drugs.

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