Ever wondered why they say sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll?

After an extremely brief reflection regarding “music gets people high”, and two Luigi Nono concerts which gave me chills down the spine and shivers in my bones (in the positive sense, as the so-called New Music and experimental sounds tend to do to me), I found that:

Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music.


“Music, an abstract stimulus, can arouse feelings of euphoria and craving, similar to tangible rewards that involve the striatal dopaminergic system. Using the neurochemical specificity of [11C]raclopride positron emission tomography scanning, combined with psychophysiological measures of autonomic nervous system activity, we found endogenous dopamine release in the striatum at peak emotional arousal during music listening. To examine the time course of dopamine release, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging with the same stimuli and listeners, and found a functional dissociation: the caudate was more involved during the anticipation and the nucleus accumbens was more involved during the experience of peak emotional responses to music. These results indicate that intense pleasure in response to music can lead to dopamine release in the striatal system. Notably, the anticipation of an abstract reward can result in dopamine release in an anatomical pathway distinct from that associated with the peak pleasure itself. Our results help to explain why music is of such high value across all human societies.”

Here are more info + stuff they used in the study.

And that:
Intensely pleasurable responses to music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated in reward and emotion.

And that:
The Rewarding Aspects of Music Listening Are Related to Degree of Emotional Arousal.
“In this study, using methods of high temporal sensitivity we investigated whether there is a systematic relationship between dynamic increases in pleasure states and physiological indicators of emotional arousal.”
Which more or less means that, those parts of the brains which are active in response to “high-inducing” stimuli like food, sex, and drugs are also active in response to music. i.e. music does get you high (under certain circumstances).

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.