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The Musical Experience Essay

1566 words - 7 pages

For a majority of people, music is a huge part of their everyday life. Whether a person listens to classical, country, reggae, pop or rock, music can have an emotional attachment to it. Why is it that music consumes people and makes a person feel so good? Music can be associated with emotional feeling because it is something that can often times relate to an individual on a personal level. However big the emotional connection is, there lies an intricate, scientific explanation as to why a person feels these emotions. Listening to music deals with how sound is perceived in a human, the chemical explanation of how one feels while listening to a song, along with the emotional explanation ...view middle of the document...

Pain can be brought on by hurtful memories or being physically hurt. Much like pain and excitement, pleasure can be summoned by memories, events or listening to a favorite song. Music is used to change, release, and match emotions along with using it for pure enjoyment or relieving stress. What causes an individual to feel pleasure? Dopamine is the release of a neurotransmitter in the brain that causes a positive sensation. In Nature Neuroscience, it is suggested that “previous neuroimaging studies have implicated emotion and reward circuits of the brain during pleasurable music listening . . . suggesting the possible involvement of [dopamine]” (Salimpoor et al. 257). In a Biology class a student is taught that plethora of dopamine is released when the neurons are being constantly stimulated by drug usage because it takes advantage of the neuron pathways. This causes a stable feeling of intense pleasure an individual feels while under the influence of a drug. Music can have a considerably same effect, or euphoric feeling as taking a drug. Like a drug, such as cocaine, music can have the ability to cause phenomenons such as “heart rate, respiration rate, increased blood pressure and peripheral temperature” (Salimpoor et al. 257).
Neuroscience is a science that deals with the function of the nervous system and brain. In order to see these reactions in the brain, researchers use a machine called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to take a peek at the “diverse set of intricate neural processing networks within the brain” (Wilkins et al. 283). When using both the fMRI and PET to look at subjects, the results were astonishing. Already knowing that listening to music released dopamine for the pleasurable sensation, as discussed previously, researchers discovered that the right caudate and NAcc neurons were reacting relatively the same until a certain part of a favorite song. NAcc is abbreviated for nucleus accumbens, which deals with the reward circuit and two neurotransmitters; dopamine and serotonin. The caudate refers to the caudate nucleus which plays a role in how the brain learns. The anticipation of the song had the NAcc and caudate at about the same wavelengths, however, the caudate was a higher dopamine wavelength than the NAcc. Here is where it gets interesting, seconds before the experience, the point of time when the individual enjoys the song the most, the wavelengths of the caudate and NAcc switch. Switch meaning, the NAcc shoots to a much higher wavelength than before, in fact, higher than where the caudate's wavelength was at. Resulting in the opposite for the caudate. Basically, the caudate and NAcc swap places making their wavelengths opposite of what they had before.
As said in the previous paragraph, the NAcc is associated with the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. When the experience is taking place, the wavelength of the NAcc shoot...

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