Your Brain Works Better with Music

Your Brain Works Better With Music

The written content of the post was authored by best-selling author and neuroscience expert, Mark Robert Waldman. It is posted with his permission.

Everyone has felt it.
Music is a powerful, brain-changing force.

Here's a reason why: 
When you listen pleasant original unfamiliar musical orchestrations, dopamine (which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior) is released in the nucleus accumbens (which plays a significant role in cognitive processing of motivation, pleasure, and reward and reinforcement).

This increases consciousness, lowers stress, turns off emotional negativity, and actually stimulates the memory circuits in your brain.

Neuro-Tip: Play different types of music in the background when you work, or when you are struggling with a problem, but be careful of tracks filled with lots of minor chords...which may backfire and depress you.

UPDATE: After this blog post was published, we created a Focus/Bliss Playlist you can tune into.  Enjoy!

Neuroscience 14, 257–262 (2011) 
Valorie N Salimpoor,

Music, an abstract stimulus, can arouse feelings of euphoria and craving, similar to tangible rewards that involve the striatal dopaminergic system. Using the neurochemical specificity of [11C]raclopride positron emission tomography scanning, combined with psychophysiological measures of autonomic nervous system activity, we found endogenous dopamine release in the striatum at peak emotional arousal during music listening. To examine the time course of dopamine release, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging with the same stimuli and listeners, and found a functional dissociation: the caudate was more involved during the anticipation and the nucleus accumbens was more involved during the experience of peak emotional responses to music. These results indicate that intense pleasure in response to music can lead to dopamine release in the striatal system. Notably, the anticipation of an abstract reward can result in dopamine release in an anatomical pathway distinct from that associated with the peak pleasure itself. Our results help to explain why music is of such high value across all human societies.

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