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music dopamine science study


Study Shows Science Behind Music Addiction

Have you ever wondered why you love music so much? A few answers may come to mind instantly: the way it makes you feel, the way it helps to cope with emotional or physical pain, the way it connects you to others… The list could go on and on. Simply put, music makes you feel good; and science agrees with this.

Many studies like this one link music to other vices like gambling, drugs, alcohol, or savory food. “When you listen to tunes that move you, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical involved in both motivation and addiction.”

Dopamine is an organic chemical that is vital to the health of the mind and body. In the brain, it works as a neurotransmitter – sending signals to other neurons that encourage motor control and help to balance the release of hormones. “It enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.” This is known as reward seeking behavior. We seek out things that we enjoy because it releases dopamine which makes us feel good.

In the body, dopamine helps to regulate digestion, kidneys, pancreas, and the immune system. A decrease in dopamine levels has been linked to ADHD, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, fatigue, and memory impairment.

Have you ever listened to a song that literally gave you the chills? That’s your brain releasing large amounts of dopamine. Our brain also releases dopamine in anticipation of the chills. In EDM-speak, when you listen to a song in anticipation of the build up, waiting for that moment when the beat drops, and you start to feel really, really good, that’s dopamine pulsing through your body. Scientists went one step further to study the effects of music on the brain in an fMRI machine.

“Once the researchers knew for sure that dopamine was behind the pleasure of music, they put participants in an fMRI machine. The scanners showed that the brain pumped out dopamine both during the phase of musical anticipation and at the moment when chills hit in full force. The two surges happened in different areas of the brain.”

Studying the effects of music on the body is helping scientists to better understand our fundamental desires. It is safe to say that the research in this industry is only just beginning.

Do you consider yourself addicted to music? Do you have a song or genre that you can’t stop listening to? Let us know in the comments below!



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Written By

Kelsea became obsessed with all things EDM after attending EDC 2010 at the LA Colosseum. She is determined to see how far the EDM vortex goes. Follow her on twitter @thegingertrek



  1. Lucy Mitchell

    December 5, 2022 at 9:38 am

    I’ve gone through phases of various artists becoming my latest obsession, sometimes for many years. My latest obsession is the band Maneskin. They don’t even always sing in English, but their music seems to cross many musical types – ballad, funk, rap, metal, etc. They’re so diverse and it keeps my brain excited and pumping dopamine, I guess.

  2. Mina

    June 6, 2022 at 9:10 am

    I definitely can relate to this. Especially how my life feels dull and boring when there is no music in the back ground.
    House and deep house make me feel super relaxed, like a 2-weeks-all-inclusive-five-star-hotel vacation.

  3. nicolas lovey

    September 8, 2021 at 10:50 am

    A source of calm soundscapes, LoFi has been described as everything from “A very particular, very millennial breed of simmering downtempo” by Vice’s Luke Winkie to

  4. Nue

    August 14, 2021 at 2:11 am

    There’s this Alternative Metalcore band that really gives me the chills when I listen to their acoustic songs. One of them is called Erase and the band is Imminence. If you listen to the live version — instead of the regular one — the frontman not only sings calmly (as opposed to their post-hardcore versions), but also plays the violin which I both admire and truly give me those high levels of dopamine…

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Important things happen in Pacific Northwest nightlife, and DMNW will send you alerts!