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Music, drugs invigorate same part of the brain, says study

New Delhi: Researchers have found that same brain-chemical system is invigorated by listening to music as well as savouring tasty foods or recreational drugs pleasure.

“This is the first demonstration that the brain’s own opioids are directly involved in musical pleasure,” said Daniel Levitin, from McGill University in Canada.

“While previous work by Levitin’s lab and others had used neuroimaging to map areas of the brain that are active during moments of musical pleasure, scientists were able only to infer the involvement of the opioid system,” Levitin said.

Researchers selectively and temporarily blocked opioids in the brain using naltrexone, a widely prescribed drug for treating addiction disorders.

The researchers then measured participants’ responses to music, and found that even the participants’ favourite songs no longer elicited feelings of pleasure.

“But the anecdotes – the impressions our participants shared with us after the experiment – were fascinating. One said: ‘I know this is my favorite song but it doesn’t feel like it usually does’,” Levitin said.

Things that people enjoy – alcohol, sex, a friendly game of poker, to name a few – can also lead to addictive behaviors that can harm lives and relationships.

So understanding the neurochemical roots of pleasure has been an important part of neuroscience research for decades.

However, scientists only recently developed the tools and methods to do such research in humans.

PTI