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Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that plays a major role in how humans function and experience different moods. The neurotransmitter is essential to the normal functioning of the central nervous system.
While some people search for artificial stimulants, such as medication, to enhance their dopamine levels, a recent study revealed that listening to music can help produce the chemical. Researchers from The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital found that the act of listening to music can cause "chills," changes in skin conductance, heart rate and breathing. These sensations are similar to those felt by humans when eating food or having sex.
The study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, discovered that the anticipation of listening to music can release dopamine in one's brain, as well. A combination of PET and fMRI brain imaging techniques determined that the chemical release was greater when participants listened to compositions that they considered pleasurable, as compared to music they gave a neutral review.
"To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration that an abstract reward such as music can lead to dopamine release," said Dr. Robert Zatorre, a neuroscientist who worked on the study.
According to LiveStrong.com, low levels of dopamine in the brain are associated with a variety of disorders, such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, restlessness and a lack of pleasure in daily activities.