Music, an abstract stimulus, can arouse feelings of euphoria and craving, similar to tangible rewards that involve the striatal dopaminergic system… These results indicate that intense pleasure in response to music can lead to dopamine release in the striatal system... Our results help to explain why music is of such high value across all human societies.Those extracts are from a paper in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Complex science needs to be treated with respect and caution, but the findings do resonate with recent paths about the links between classical music and hallucinogens, kinetic art (thanks go to Norman Perryman for the heads up), therapy, and ecstatic traditions such as Sufism. They also suggest exploitable similarities between music and tangible reward systems such as sex and gourmet food, and more importantly to opportunities for the medical application of music – in particular as a palliative for Parkinson’s disease, because a loss of dopamine-secreting neurons causes the disease. If I was still responsible for music promotion I would forget the over-exploited entertainment factor, and instead work at communicating classical music’s unique selling point, the feel good factor.
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