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Musical Chills

February 10, 2011

Music stimulates the brain area involved in drug addiction.


Getting high on music…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

(Barber, Adagio for Strings) Listening to your favorite piece of music can give you an emotional high. And now, scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University have found that’s literally true. They scanned the brains of volunteers as they listened to their favorite instrumental works – whether classical, jazz, folk or rock. During particularly moving passages, the volunteers’ brains released dopamine, a neurochemical, in the area of the brain involved in drug addiction, according to graduate student Valorie Salimpoor, the study’s lead author.

SALIMPOOR (McGill University):
It sort of provides a biological reason why music has been around for this long, because if it’s working on this system, then it’s releasing one of the most potent reinforcement and motivation chemicals in your brain.

The study appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.