Study shows music has the same effect on your brain as sex and drugs

music drugs brain 20452005  stage lights on a console smoke
sdigitall / 123RF Stock Photo
Do you wonder about the Guns ‘N Roses question, “Whatever happened to sex drugs n’ rock n’ roll?” Science may not have all the answers, but we’re getting closer to understanding the relationships. Researchers at McGill University have proved that music can have the same effect on your brain as opioids and endorphins, reports Fact.

That music rush — the chill many get from just the opening chords of a song — represents your brain releasing natural opioids such as endorphins that block pain and induce feelings of pleasure. In the McGill study, subjects were administered naltrexone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids by blocking the effects of opioids, so “feel-good” chemicals have no effect. Naltrexone induces anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure, in this case, the pleasure specifically associated with opioids.

The testing applies to more than just endorphins and music. “Preliminary studies have shown that music listening and performing modulate levels of serotonin, epinephrine, dopamine, oxytocin, and prolactin. Music can reliably induce feelings of pleasure, and indeed, people consistently rank music as among the top ten things in their lives that bring pleasure, above money, food, and art,” the authors of the study wrote.

The study wasn’t focused on rock and roll or any specific music style. The 17 participants were allowed to bring two music tracks that “reliably produced intense feelings of pleasure for them, including but not limited to the sensation of chills.” They let the subjects pick their own music because emotional response is subjective.

The researchers obtained objective and subjective pleasure readings for each subject listening to their chosen music before and after administering naltrexone. The study was a double-blind crossover using placebos with each subject tested twice. On one day, the subjects were given a placebo sugar pill, and the other day the naltrexone. Neither the subjects nor the researchers knew who took the opioid blocker and who took a placebo on either day. The result of the experiment was that, with their admittedly small group, they found statistically significant objective and subjectively reported reductions in pleasure while listening to music after the subjects took naltrexone.

One of the participants in the study said, “I know this is my favorite song but it doesn’t feel like it usually does,” according to Fact. “It sounds pretty, but it’s not doing anything for me,” said another.

According to Daniel Levitin, a cognitive psychologist and the senior author of the study, “This is the first demonstration that the brain’s own opioids are directly involved in musical pleasure.”

So there it is, an explanation for that chill you get when the first notes hit: “This is your brain on music.”

Product Review

Spacious and intuitive, Samsung's Family Hub makes the case for the smart fridge

Samsung's 28-cubic-feet Family Hub fridge aims to not only keep your food cool, but also be the brains of your home via a large computer screen on the outside panel door. Just how smart is it?
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

The best sleeping bags to help you conquer the cold, no matter what season it is

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.

M4A is great for quality, but not for storage. Here's how to convert to MP3

Despite its remarkable ability to retain audio fidelity at a smaller size, M4a files aren't the best when it comes to compatibility. Check out our basic guide on how to convert M4a files to MP3.
Smart Home

Apple Music hits the Amazon Echo. Is the cold war over?

It's about time. Amazon and Apple seem to have called a truce as Amazon agrees to add Apple Music to an ever-growing line of streaming music services on its Echo smart speakers that includes competitors like Spotify.

Enthusiast alert: Get up to 67% off Polk Audio speakers at Adorama

Any time is a good time to upgrade your home theater sound system, which makes Adorama's Polk LSI Blowout Weekend Sale particularly tempting. Adorama has discounts up to 67 percent on Polk Audio's top-of-the-line LSiM Series for…

You may soon be able to listen to your own songs on Spotify’s Android app

If you love Spotify's streaming, but also have a large collection of niche music, then it can be hard to marry your two passions. Thankfully, Spotify appears to be testing the ability to import local songs to its Android app.
Home Theater

An acclaimed Apple analyst says the new AirPods are coming in 2019

Apple plans to release new AirPods much the same as it does new iPhones, and a wireless charging case, water resistance, and better Siri integration are among the improvements we can expect in future models.

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.

Block out the sun and drown out the haters with Bose’s new AR sunglasses

Bose has announced its quirkiest listening device yet, a pair of headphone-integrated sunglasses that allow you to meander the brightest places with your favorite tunes in tow. Called the Frames, the glasses will sport 3.5 hours of battery.
Home Theater

Spotify Wrapped reveals rad facts about your musical tastes and habits

The website may be a bit tough to find at first, but Spotify Wrapped tells you awesome facts about your year in listening. From how many minutes you spent jamming out to your top artists, and beyond, there's a lot to dig into.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.

From Paul McCartney to Mariah Carey, this is the best holiday music

Whether you're a fan of classic jazz standards or modern R&B masterpieces, there's something for everyone on our playlist of the best holiday music. Pour some eggnog and curl up by the fire, this one is sure to get you in the holiday…