Listening to the Radio like doing Cocaine

Well now, this explains a few things.  Always interested in carrying science forward, I read with interest the article on Gawker which cites a study from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.  The gist of the article states that we seek out music we enjoy because of a chemical reaction in our brains:

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 hedonistic 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.

By extension, radio has previously been the venue for most new music discovery.  Although this continues today, it is being supplanted by “new media” sources such as youtube.  As a point of reference, studies on cocaine addiction show that dopamine levels increase by about 22% during use.  When a listener is exposed to what is perceived as good music (a subjective term), average dopamine levels increased by about 21%.

Risk taking behavior like computer file sharing, when known consequences are large, could enhance that by adding an element of danger.  The Gawker article lists Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” which I always found somewhat depressing.  Something more like this a little more fun:

You can disregard the T-shirt pitch at the end if you want.

So there you are you erstwhile program directors, now you know why your job is important; you are to make us addicts, or not, depending…

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