Addiction Watch: If Love is a Drug, Can Music be One Too?

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“If music be the food of love, play on.” We can all quote Shakespeare on music, but is it possible to literally be on music?

According to new research by Valorie Salimpoor, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, we consume music for the same reasons that we enjoy sex, drugs, gambling, drinking and good food: we are can’t get enough of the highly addictive chemical dopamine. You’ve possibly heard of dopamine before, as almost every time someone tries to¬† scientifically explain why we experience happiness, addiction or motivation, this chemical crops up. And this new study claims to have successfully linked the pleasure of listening to music with the release of dopamine.

(See Portraits of Country Music’s Top Stars on

This means that we have a biological reason for enjoying Mozart, Lady GaGa and Dolly Parton in the same capacity (and imagine them playing a concert together). However, the study found from recording dopamine release levels with a machine called a PET scanner, which measures dopamine’s circulation in the blood, that the most popular music to make you happy is Barber’s Adagio for Strings. “It is amazing that we can release dopamine in anticipation of something abstract, complex and not concrete,” Salimpoor said. “This is the first study to show that dopamine can be released in response to an aesthetic stimulus.”

(Have a look at Techland’s 3 Songs You Have to Download this Week.)

Here’s a drug that NewsFeed can endorse, so go and take a dose of music to raise your spirits.