Posted on 09/11/2011 at 09:24 AM by Global Reach
Why Music Makes You Happy
Listening to music releases dopamine, a feel-good chemical associated with addiction.
- Listening to moving music causes the brain to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical.
- Dopamine-induced pleasure may help explain why music has been such a big part of human societies throughout history.
- Understanding why people like listening to music is helping scientists understand human pleasure.
People love music for much the same reason they're drawn to sex, drugs, gambling and delicious food, according to new research. When you listen to tunes that move you, the study found, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical involved in both motivation and addiction.
Even just anticipating the sounds of a composition like Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" or Phish's "You Enjoy Myself" can get the feel-good chemical flowing, found the study, which was the first to make a concrete link between dopamine release and musical pleasure.
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. Through music, the study also offers new insights into how the human pleasure system works.
"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 reinforcement or reward happens almost entirely because of dopamine."