Music affects the same reward center in the brain as alcohol and drugs

Scientists from the Montreal Neurological Institute in Canada have found that music activates the same reward center in the brain as food, alcohol, drugs, and money, therefore it brings satisfaction. The work was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Seventeen volunteers took part in the study. A group of pop music fans was given a playlist of pop songs. While listening to music, the research team measured the subjects' brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Before the scans, the scientists additionally excited or suppressed the brain's reward circuitry using rTMS. 

They found that activating the reward circuit before listening to music increased the pleasure participants felt when listening to songs while suppressing it decreased it. These changes were related to activity in the nucleus accumbens, a key region of the reward circuit that is involved in shaping pleasure, addiction, and the placebo effect. 

The greatest difference in music enjoyment was associated with the greatest dyssynchronization of auditory and reward region activity. The findings suggest that it is the interaction between the auditory region and the reward region that causes the pleasure we experience when listening to music.

 

March 31, 2021, 11:07 a.m.

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