Courtney Smith

People love music for much the same reason they’re drawn to delicious food according to new research. When you listen to tunes that move you your brain releases dopamine, a chemical involved in addiction. Even just anticipating the sounds of a composition can get the feel good chemical. The findings offer a biological explanation for why music has been such a major part of major emotional events in cultures around the world since the beginning of human history. “You’re following these tunes and anticipating what’s going to come next and whether it’s going to confirm or surprise you, and all of these little cognitive nuances are what’s giving you this amazing pleasure,” said Valorie Salimpoor, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal. “The reward happens almost entirely because of dopamine.” Music to Your Ears? “This basically explains why music has been around for so long,” she added. “The intense pleasure we get from it is actually biologically reinforcing in the brain, and now here’s proof for it.” In a previous study, Salimpoor and colleagues linked music-induced pleasure with a surge in intense emotional arousal, including changes in heart rate, pulse, breathing rate and other measurements. Along with these physical changes, people often report feelings of shivers or chills. When that happens during a listening experience, there is evidence that blood flows to regions in the brain involved in dopamine release. The researchers recruited eight music-lovers, who brought to the lab samples of music that gave them chills of pleasure. Most picks were classical, with some jazz, rock and popular music mixed in, including Led Zeppelin and Dave Matthews Band. The most popular selection was strings. These studies concluded that music is mildly addictive like nicotine in drugs. These studies show why everyone loves music and it has been around for approximately 300,000 of years.

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