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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