Thursday, February 24, 2011

Music 'releases mood-enhancing chemical in the brain'

By Sonya McGilchrist
Health reporter, BBC News

Music releases a chemical in the brain that has a key role in setting good moods, a study has suggested.

The study, reported in Nature Neuroscience, found that the chemical was released at moments of peak enjoyment.

Researchers from McGill University in Montreal said it was the first time that the chemical - called dopamine - had been tested in response to music.

Dopamine increases in response to other stimuli such as food and money. It is known to produce a feel-good state in response to certain tangible stimulants - from eating sweets to taking cocaine. Dopamine is also associated with less tangible stimuli - such as being in love.

In this study, levels of dopamine were found to be up to 9% higher when volunteers were listening to music they enjoyed.

The report authors say it's significant in proving that humans obtain pleasure from music - an abstract reward - that is comparable with the pleasure obtained from more basic biological stimuli. Music psychologist, Dr Vicky Williamson from Goldsmiths College, University of London welcomed the paper. She said the research didn't answer why music was so important to humans - but proved that it was.

"This paper shows that music is inextricably linked with our deepest reward systems."


1. stimuli - anything in the environment that causes a something to react
2. stimulant - a substance that promotes activity, interest, or enthusiasm
3. tangible - existing physically; that which can be touched
4. inextricably - impossible to untie or disentangle; impossible to solve; impossible to escape from

1. How does music make us feel good?
2. Aside from music, what are the other things that makes us release dopamine?


Elvis Presley

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