Music Activates Dopamine, Linking Aesthetics to Pleasure

RoseTracker| Sex, drugs and rock & roll are more closely linked than scientists understood. Apple’s iTunes joins the porn world in providing products that activitate dopamine.

Fascinating new brain scan research shows scientists exactly how music activates the brain’s pleasure center. On a cultural level, we now understand why music plays such a role in significant emotional events around the world. Intuitively, we also understand how music can be used in sinister ways.

“You’re following these tunes and anticipating what’s going to come next and whether it’s going to confirm or surprise you, and all of these little cognitive nuances are what’s giving you this amazing pleasure,” said Valorie Salimpoor, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal. “The reinforcement or reward happens almost entirely because of dopamine.”

The study is the first to link dopamine to aesthetic stimulus. Another major finding of the study is that dopamine receptors  were activated in anticipation of the pleasure — the musical passages in this study. via Discovery News

Understanding the relationship of pleasure and dopamine in advance of an event is highly relevant. For many people just thinking about the tart in the bakery window offers sufficient reward to eating it. Brain scans now confirm that the dopamine rush can occur without actually experiencing the event.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University reported recently that thinking about food actually reduced consumption of it, rather than increasing it as expected.

Because Anne of Carversville is founded on the premise that responsible pleasure is good for us, and not de facto corrupting as promised by monotheism, we welcome these new findings on music and dopamine release.