Why does music make our brains sing

Music is something invisible and intangible, you can not eat or drink it, not to mention physical contact with it. It cannot protect you from wind and rain, keep you warm and protect you from cold. It cannot help you crush your enemies and it cannot heal your broken bones. But people have always appreciated music - or even more - and we love it.

Modern people pay big money to go to concerts, download music, play instruments and listen to their favorite artists, whether on subway or in salon. But archaeologists have discovered that already in Paleolithic era there were flutes made from animal bones, and this is enough to show that people put a lot of time and effort into making music at that time. The core of music is nothing but a series of sounds, so why does this formless thing contain such great essential value? The quick and simple explanation is that music can give people a unique pleasure. Of course, this still doesn't answer "why" question. But for now, neuroscience can offer several answers.

Over a decade ago, our research team used brain imaging techniques to show how music described as "highly touching" affects part of brain that is responsible for reward system. know triggers The subcortical nucleus plays a very important role in reward system as well as in behavioral motivation and emotional system. Finally, we found that listening to so-called "emotionally high moments" in music (those passages that give you goosebumps) causes brain to release neurotransmitter dopamine, an important neurotransmitter in brain, signaling molecules.

Listening to pleasant music releases dopamine from striatum, an ancient brain organ found in other vertebrates that responds to instinctive stimulation. In response, it can be affected by artificial drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines. But what's most interesting is timing of release of neurotransmitters - not only at moment when music reaches an emotional climax, but also seconds before that moment, in what we call "waiting" phase.

The idea that "reward" is about "expectation" (or expectation of a desired outcome) has a long history in neuroscience. After all, correctly anticipating consequences of behavior seems essential to survival. In humans and other animals, dopamine-producing neurons play an important role in system that registers whether expectations are correct or not. To further explore how music affects brain's reward system, we designed an experiment that simulates buying music online—when someone hears a new piece of music, thinks they like it a lot, and wants to buy it. what happened in his brain? That's what we want to find out.

Using a music recommendation program, we've curated listener's favorite music from a range of indie and electronic music that blends well with Montreal's hippie vibe. Finally, we found that neural activity in striatum, a brain structure associated with reward system, is directly related to amount of money people are willing to pay.