As a musician almost my entire life, not a day goes by where I’m not listening to music. It doesn’t feel right. There have been a few times that I’ve been too busy with school and work that by late evening I just noticed myself feeling duller than usual.
It’s not just me that feels that music has the ability to cause feelings of euphoria. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven.
You know that feeling when you’re driving in your car, and your favorite song happens to come on? You may get tingles, goose-bumps, or just in general feel really happy. So why do we have this reaction exactly?
Dopamine is what controls our reward center. Things like food, sex, and chemicals cause our brain to release this neurotransmitter, causing us to get a sense of euphoria. This article talks about a study that was one of the first bits of proof we’ve had that dopamine is responsible for emotional responses to music.
The study involved multiple volunteers that were instructed to bring in one song that had significance to them, and then another would be used as the control. By use of a PET scan, researchers were able to see increased brain activity in the mesolimbic reward center.
Interestingly enough, you would assume that dopamine levels would be highest at the most anticipated parts of songs, however the levels peaked when the subjects were anticipating the high they thought they would feel.
One thing this article says is that music isn’t necessary for survival. I disagree.