Put another record on: It turns out that listening to music is just about as good as sex when it comes to making people happy. A new study from Canadian researchers at McGill University in Montreal found that the dopamine released while having sex is the same you get when listening to music. Researchers vetted 10 subjects to receive specialized brain scans to measure dopamine levels. They were then played their favorite music while dopamine levels were measured. Regardless of the genre of music — punk, classical or pop — subjects felt a dopamine high. The coolest thing: Dopamine responds to the pauses and pathways in different songs. So if you’re particularly familiar with a song or a sequence, your brain will anticipate it and produce dopamine ahead of it.
The music dopamine is particularly good news when it comes to figuring out how to treat depression and anxiety. “For reasons that we don’t entirely understand, somehow music was able to kick in with the same system,” said Robert Zatorre, lead researcher on the study. “And that gives it power that it might not otherwise have…Because it gives us pleasure, we can use it to our advantage to modulate our state of mind.” [Montreal Gazette]
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The current issue of Rolling Stone features the Hotness Award-nominated band the Jonas Brothers. I was a nanny for an 8-year old not too long ago and while she introduced me to the magical world of Miley Cyrus, I have never been able to like the Jonas Brothers because she sang that song “Year 3000″ at the top of her lungs 24/7 and let me tell you, it was annoying. But I did learn something new from reading RS‘ profile of the hugely, insanely, mega popular band. According to Dr. Louannn Brizendine, author of The Female Brain:
“There’s a thing in biology we call synchrony. Basically, one girl affects another affects another, and it becomes a domino effect building up to that level of hysteria. They are getting all these brain hits of dopamine, and also oxytocin, which is a love-and-bonding hormone. Teenage girls have so much estrogen, which just catapults the level of dopamine and oxytocin in the brain, creating this sort of ecstatic rush in themselves and others. It truly is a state of ecstatic love.”
That explains the masses of crying teens whose fingers graze against Nick Jonas’ arm or the hoards of fans who welcomed the Beatles to America in 1964. It also explains why I contemplated suicide when I didn’t get Pearl Jam tickets in 1992 (my dad eventually forked over money to a scalper and saved my life). So, if the statement above is true, who had that ecstatic power over your teenage heart? Keep reading »