RIAA on Twitter

Music Notes Blog

C'mon Get Happy!

January 12, 2011

Hey, music fans: ever get chills just from listening to a song's crescendo? Are there certain songs that tug at your heartstrings and evoke a sense of euphoria? Well you might be interested to know that researchers at McGill University in Montreal looked at the pleasurable feelings music elicits from fans and confirmed what we all knew without really knowing: good music can be a drug. Specifically, they found that at certain points from various songs the brain releases a substance called dopamine which is responsible for a happy sensation that can cause goosebumps. From the article:

PET scans showed the participants' brains pumped out more dopamine in a region called the striatum when listening to favorite pieces of music than when hearing other pieces. Functional MRI scans showed where and when those releases happened.

Dopamine surged in one part of the striatum during the 15 seconds leading up to a thrilling moment, and a different part when that musical highlight finally arrived.

The songs in the study represented a wide range of music -- from classical, jazz, punk, tango and even bagpipes. As for other types of music, further research is needed to determine whether the sensation occurs when vocals are present. But as any fan who has a “happy” playlist or gets chills during the chorus of their favorite song, we can safely assume it’s the music that leaves us trippy. So tune in and c’mon get happy!

Cara Duckworth, Vice President, Communications, RIAA