Canadian researchers has suggested that when we are moved by music our brains behave as if reacting to delicious food, psychoactive drugs or money, reports the Scotsman.
The pleasure experience is driven by the "reward" chemical dopamine, which has been linked to addiction. It produces physical effects known as "chills" that cause changes in the skin's electrical conductance, heart rate, breathing and temperature. The responses correlate with the degree to which people rate the "pleasurability" of music, said the researchers.
The new research has shown that dopamine release was greatest when listeners had a strong emotional response to music. "If music-induced emotional states can lead to dopamine release, as our findings indicate, it may begin to explain why musical experiences are so valued,” wrote the scientists.
"These results further speak to why music can be effectively used in rituals, marketing or film to manipulate hedonic states. Our findings provide neurochemical evidence that intense emotional responses to music involve ancient reward circuitry and serve as a starting point for more detailed investigations of the biological substrates that underlie abstract forms of pleasure,” they added.
The research has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.