Musical high triggers dopamine release

Music is everywhere in our lives from film, television, marketing, radio, and so on. Even the musical hum of cars outside our offices is a form of music; although it’s debatable if it is pleasurable. Those who work with music as a marketing or movie enhancing tool know that musical choices are critical.

Researchers have now shown that the pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter dopamine is released in response to our favorite music and link the ancient parts of our brain involved in survival with pleasurable responses to music.

Music is pleasurable, at least some forms are. We like listening to our favorite songs over and over again. Previous research has indirectly implicated the pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter dopamine in this process, however this hasn’t been demonstrated directly.

Until now. Dr. Salimpoor and colleagues have just published their latest findings in Nature Neuroscience showing for the first time that deep within the limbic system, the ancient parts of our brains that respond to fear and emotions, dopamine is released.

Using PET and fMRI imaging techniques, they show that different amounts of dopamine in different areas, the caudate and nucleus accumbens to be precise, are released in anticipation of our favorite part or at the emotional peak of the music.

It seems that ancient parts of our brain are involved in more than just survival instincts and that the emotional responses to more abstract pleasure like music also are controlled by this area.

© Judy Keen | n3 science |

For further reading please visit the n3 science communications blog

Comments are closed.