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The Joy Of Music: It’s All In Your Brain (Chemistry)

Recent studies at McGill University give evidence that we are biologically programmed to listen to music.

dopamine

Photo: Hank Grebe (mediaspin.com)

Researchers used PET and MRI scans to reveal where and how much of the neurotransmitter known as dopamine was being released.

Why Does Music Make Us Feel Good?

We have all experienced the joys of listening to music, with its ability to lift our spirits and to make us happy. Even hearing a favorite song from ten years ago can be an exhilarating experience.

For years scientists have searched for a biological basis for mankind’s seemingly innate love for performing arts. Now researchers at McGill University think they might have an answer.

The McGill studies, published in Nature Neuroscience, give firm evidence that there is indeed biological evidence that we are programmed to listen to music.

Findings indicate that the same neurotransmitter that released when humans are engaging in pleasurable activities—such as eating food—is also released when listeners hear their favorite song.

The Power Of Nostalgia

For the study, each subject was played his or her favorite music over a loudspeaker while researchers used PET and MRI scans to reveal where and how much of the neurotransmitter known as dopamine was being released. They found significant results across all genres, whether it was rock, jazz or classical music.

What’s most interesting about the study is that dopamine has been known to reinforce activities that are key to survival.

The implications derived from this study propose exciting ideas about the function of music throughout history. The McGill neurologists have opened a new doors into the study of music from a scientific standpoint.

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