February 12th, 2011
We all have a system called pleasure and reward circuitry inside our brain. Thanks to this system we feel pleasure when we eat, have sex, drink beer, win something etc. It is also this circuitry which is affected by all kind of drugs. One of the neurotransmitter involved in this pleasure is Dopamine.
Globally this system is necessary for survival but not only! According to a recent paper “Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music”, music also activates the emotion and reward system by dopamine, so now you know why you are euphoric and have a good pleasure when you listen to music I will be clear when I said Music I speak about Metal or Classical music, not Justin Bieber or Eurodance and other kind of horrible noses which induce ear bleeding (at least to me).
How they have found that?
- 8 persons had to choose a song which gives them the most pleasure and obligatory induced chills when they listen to it.
- Verifying that the chills response is a good representation of emotional pleasure during music listening. Briefly when you listen a song which give you pleasure, your autonomic nervous system is activated and induces: increasing of heart rate, respiration and electrodermal response; decrease temperature and blood volume pulse. In this case, chill (which is not obligatory or necessary to stimulate the reward system during music listening and also chill is not specific to pleasure but also to fear) is correlated with these same autonomic responses.
- PETscan, boring thing but briefly they have injected [11C]raclopride which binds D2-receptor of dopamine (neurotransmitter involved in pleasure) and by PETscan they have measured the activity of this radioactive element and where it is happens on the brain.
- fMRI, also boring thing but it is used to assess indirectly the activity of the brain. The participants had to press a button when they had chills during the listening session and by fMRI it is possible to see if the activity of the brain increase or decrease after and before this button pushing.
What they have found?
- When a pleasurable music is listened, the pleasure and reward system (ventral and dorsal striatum, mostly in the right caudate and the right nucleus accumbens) are activated by increasing of dopamine, but not during a neutral music excerpts.
- The dorsal (the caudate) and ventral subdivisions (nucleus accumbens) of the striatum as contributing to the anticipation and experience, respectively, of peak pleasure moments during music listening
What that fucking means?!
- Music (an abstract reward) activates directly you pleasure and reward circuitry by dopamine release as drugs, food and sex do.
- Anticipation of pleasure moment and pleasure moment itself involved two different part of the reward circuitry.
Well, ok music = pleasure but in what this good study is implicated to me?
- This abstract form of pleasure which are not a vital/survival element activated directly your rewards system. That is why you feel good in concert, when you listen good music and so on.
- These areas of the rewards system are interconnected with other brain area involved in emotion, learning of stimulus-responses associations etc. That means, music could touch your emotion or could induce an association/reinforcement to something else. That could explain why music is used in rituals and fucking marketing brain washing.
Now, I will induce pleasure to myself by music with the song Invocations Beyond The Outer-World Night of Bal-Sagoth.
Salimpoor VN, Benovoy M, Larcher K, Dagher A, & Zatorre RJ (2011). Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music. Nature neuroscience, 14 (2), 257-62 PMID: 21217764