Came across this article in my daily Pub Med search. It links the two facets of my life (brain imaging and music), so I thought I’d share.
For a more palatable summation, check out this news article entitled “music rewards brain like sex and drugs”
Basically, it indicates that music we experience as pleasurable (they actually measured the sensation of getting chills), can lead to dopamine release in the brain. This dopamine is part of a reward circuit. An interesting point brought up in the discussion section is that this reward circuit is often linked to activities that are highly adaptive (sex, eating), but it is also associated with drug use, smoking, and other activities that might be associated with addiction.
My question is, can we look at music as something that is culturally adaptive or would it be more lumped in the addiction category? On the one hand, music can be seen as an imperative part of human survival. It brings people together, keeps them going through more difficult times, and can create and/or augment feels of euphoria. On the other hand, I’ve always speculated that I have a chemical addiction to music. I use it to get me though the day. I suffer from withdrawal if I don’t get it. Music can also be incredibly manipulative.
I suppose I would hypothesize that reward properties of music would be similar to that of say food, a substance that we need to survive, but that can also be abused. Then, my question would be, is there a “type” of person who would be more prone to this “music addition”? What would distinguish this person, physiologically?
Anyway, those are my initial thoughts on the article. I’d love to take the research a step further and look at the addictive properties of music…perhaps someday I’ll get the opportunity…
I’m fairly confident that my nucleus accumbens is going crazy right around the bridge of this song: