Music is of interest to cognitive neuroscientists as there is no known evolutionary value. Despite this, it continues to exist across cultures and generations. Like food or sex, music activates the dopaminergic pathway, a reward circuit in the brain responsible for sending the neurotransmitter dopamine throughout the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in reward-motivated behaviour. When we receive a reward, the levels of dopamine increase in our brain and encourage us to take action to receive greater reward. Similar to how one’s enjoyment of food and taste can vary across individuals, many find that their music preferences can differ significantly from that of their peers. Many of us, when listening to highly enjoyable music, can experience chills, an increased heart rate, or feelings of being “moved”. Dopamine response has been linked to chills felt when listening to a moving piece of music, but what we don’t know is why certain people get chills, while others do not.
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