Brain Stimulated, Comforted by Music


WASHINGTON, DC-A new study published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports brain structures that respond to food and sex are also stimulated by music.

The report, authored by Anne Blood, MD, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Robert Zatorre of McGill University in Montreal, explains how the team of researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) to see which areas of the brain are stimulated by music. They found that the midbrain, called the ventral striatum, was responding.

This is the same area of the brain responsible for creating euphoric feelings when someone eats or has sex. The euphoric results of both actions were created as a method of survival. However, why the brain has begin producing the same effects when people listen to music is not understood.

The study suggests that music benefits both the physical and mental well-being of the listener. Yet the researchers report that physical reaction to music is both individualized, (some people respond to rock while others prefer classical) and culturally based.

Why humans have responded biologically to music is unclear and will continue to be researched.

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