JNeurosci 2021 “width =” 750 “height =” 423 “/> Larger induced differences in pleasure were associated with increased synchronized activity between hearing and reward regions.Credit: Mas-Herrero et al., JNeurosci 2021
Communication between the brain’s hearing and reward circuits is why people find music rewarding, according to a new study published in JNeurosci.
Despite the lack of obvious biological benefits, people love music. Neuroimaging studies show similarities between the way the brain’s reward circuits process music and other rewards such as food, money, and alcohol. However, neuroimaging studies are inherently correlative. In a new study, Mas-Herrero et al. tried to determine the causal role of these circuits through non-invasive brain stimulation.
A group of pop music fans listened to a number of pop songs while the research team measured their brain activity with fMRI. Before the scan, the team indirectly aroused or inhibited the brain’s reward circuit through transcranial magnetic stimulation. Exciting the reward circuit prior to listening to music increased the pleasure attendees felt while listening to the songs, while inhibiting it decreased the pleasure.
These induced changes in pleasure were associated with changes in activity in the nucleus accumbens, a key region of the reward cycle. The participants with the greatest difference in pleasure also showed the greatest difference in synchronized activity between hearing and reward regions.
These results suggest that interactions between listening and reward regions enhance the enjoyment of listening to music.
Your favorite music can flood your brain with pleasure
Deciphering the temporal dynamics of reward signals in music-induced pleasure with TMS, JNeurosci (2021). DOI: 10.1523 / JNEUROSCI.0727-20.2020 Provided by the Society for Neuroscience
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