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Why Songs Can Get You High

According to a new study in Nature Neuroscience, there are songs that can arouse feelings of euphoria and craving by endogenous dopamine release in the striatum.

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. 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.

One of those songs according to Robert Zatorre, one of the authors:

(Hat tip: In and aound the lab)

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Woah, dude, I was listening through speakers; when I put on headphones, the alternating / off-beat tempos between the two ears made me puke! Got a virtual anti-emetic for that??

    (Just kidding, but it was indeed a “woah” moment.)

    January 17, 2011
  2. A agree with Dave to a point. It had an actual physical reaction in me, an off-balance knot in my gut reaction, not a pleasant reaction, but it made the point of what music can do to us. On a NOVA program it showed 2 plants, exactly the same, in 2 glass boxes. A speaker on the same side of each box. In one box they played mellow, happy music. In the other, heavy metal, punk rock, screaming, head banging stuff. In the first box, the plant started growing toward the speaker. In the second box, the plant was growing away from the speaker, to avoid the biological effects.

    January 17, 2011
  3. Dave’s comments are a good example about how music can create or stop pain. I recommend life skills training for greater understanding about what will work or not work for individualized health benefit found at

    January 18, 2011
  4. It is interesting. Love the idea that all I need is some punk to cure my depression…

    That said – we all surely use music to focus, or to relax at points: could this calming state not be a similar chemical reaction in the mind as one would find taking a very mild dose of a benzodiazepine?

    January 19, 2011
  5. Great choice of music:)

    January 22, 2011
  6. ArbitraryPoster #

    lol Science, always tryna figure out the obvious.. Common, the people commenting acting all surprised is a bit off… There’s a reason no one likes country, and a reason why women like those pop songs like “irreplaceable” by Beyonce when they just got dumped lol… Are we all really surprised that music can evoke emotion ? or make you feel high ? oi, Science isn’t god, you don’t need it to verify something you can already feel… Damn, people are dumber then I thought.

    October 10, 2012

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