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Why Listening To Music Is Like Falling In Love

10/01/2011 10:42 | Updated 22 May 2015

It doesn't matter what type of music you like, but listening to your favourite tune is usually a reliable way to put yourself in a good mood. And now neuroscientists from Canada think they can explain why.

Listening to music is like falling in loveWhat sort of music makes you feel good? Photo: Flickr, torugatoru

According to the researchers, when you hear music that gives you a thrill - in other words when you get that hair-standing-up-at-the-back-of-your-neck feeling - your brain releases a feel-good chemical called dopamine that's also released when you fall in love, have sex, eat delicious food or take drugs such as cocaine.

The Montreal-based scientists carried out experiments using instrumental music - which suggests it's not necessary the words in songs that produce the feel-good effect.

Volunteers had their brains scanned while listening to music that they particularly enjoyed as well as music that they didn't have any feelings about. After analysing the scans, the scientists - writing in the journal Nature Neuroscience - revealed the amount of dopamine produced by the volunteers brains' was 9% higher while the volunteers were listening to their favourite tracks.

In fact the dopamine release peaked when the listeners were experiencing that familiar shiver-down-the-spine feeling you get during special moments in a piece of music that means a lot to you.

While that doesn't say anything about why music plays such a significant part in so many cultures around the world, it does perhaps prove that it is important.

The volunteers in the study chose favourite pieces of music in many different styles, including classical, jazz, punk and even bagpipes.

Does a particular piece of music make you feel euphoric? Tell us what it is.

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