Study finds music can be addictive

By Cristina Aguirre

Throughout recorded history in every culture around the globe, music has existed in one form or another. Listening to favorite music has been universally accepted as a pleasurable and often relaxing experience. For years, scientists have pondered why music plays such a large and important role in life. But recently, a group of neuroscientists, led by Canadian researcher Valorie Salimpoor, discovered music elicits the same reaction in the brain as the use of cocaine or downing a delicious meal would.

A group of scientists, from The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University, discovered listening to pleasurable music causes the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that reinforces gratifying behavior. The group found that dopamine was released when those listening to music reached peak emotional arousal, a finding the team expected. However, the group also discovered the anticipation of hearing pleasurable music can induce a dopamine release, a result Salimpoor and her team consider to be the most important finding in the study. The Chronicle’s Interactive Media Editor, Bethany Reinhart-Buonsante, tells us more.