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Music ‘releases mood-enhancing chemical in the brain’

January 10, 2011

Music ‘releases mood-enhancing chemical in the brain’

This BBC news item reports on a study which says about the chemical dopamine: It is known to produce a feel-good state in response to certain tangible stimulants – from eating sweets to taking cocaine. Dopamine is also associated with less tangible stimuli – such as being in love.

It also says: Dopamine is a common neurotransmitter in the brain. It is released in response to rewarding human activity and is linked to reinforcement and motivation – these include activities that are biologically significant such as eating and sex.

Yaers ago I saw a documentary that said that enjoying clubbing was a learned experience. At that time we were just starting to make electronic music and, although I had loved going to rock or folk gigs for years, I had always felt that my few visits to clubs left me cold or, more accurately, utterly mystified. What did people get from bobbing about to tedious repetitive beats for hours on end? I knew lots of them were probably dropping Es but some weren’t. So, maybe this study explains it to some degree. Some of the same brain chemicals released or augmented by drugs may well be released quite naturally by music, volume and physical activity. And bass!

As the years have gone on and we’ve made a lot of dance music, been to a lot of clubs and learned to just relax and go with the vibe, I totally get it now. Music still moves me and I don’t need drugs to enjoy it.

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