Classical Music and Mood

From a study by V. Menona and D.J. Levitin :

Although the neural underpinnings of music cognition have been widely studied in the last 5 years, relatively little is known about the neuroscience underlying emotional reactions that music induces in listeners. Many people spend a significant amount of time listening to music, and its emotional power is assumed but not well understood. Here, we use functional and effective connectivity analyses to show for the first time that listening to music strongly modulates activity in a network of mesolimbic structures involved in reward processing including the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA), as well as the hypothalamus and insula, which are thought to be involved in regulating autonomic and physiological responses to rewarding and emotional stimuli. Responses in the NAc and the VTA were strongly correlated pointing to an association between dopamine release and NAc response to music. Responses in the NAc and the hypothalamus were also strongly correlated across subjects, suggesting a mechanism by which listening to pleasant music evokes physiological reactions. Effective connectivity confirmed these findings, and showed significant VTA-mediated interaction of the NAc with the hypothalamus, insula, and orbitofrontal cortex. The enhanced functional and effective connectivity between brain regions mediating reward, autonomic, and cognitive processing provides insight into understanding why listening to music is one of the most rewarding and pleasurable human experiences.

And now, this article :

One of the most convincing rationale for the role of dopamine in bipolar disorder is the vital role dopamine plays in the reward and/or incentive motivational circuitry. In fact, loss of motivation is one of the key features of depression. The most consistent biochemical finding in depression is the reduced concentration of homovanillic acid (HVA), a major dopamine metabolite, in the cerebrospinal fluid (Manji & Lenox, 2000).

Couple strolling on clouds, surrounded by musical notes

Couple Strolling through Clouds
Pop Ink – CSA Images

Since dopamine is involved in the reward circuitry of the brain, and music releases dopamine, as we have seen in other studies, music has the ability not only to disrupt addictive behaviours, but also appears to be a candidate for ameliorating depression and other mood disorders. While I’m not advocating music as a replacement for consulting a qualified professional, listening to music could be a great choice for leisure activities and might promote healthier brain function.

Other studies show that classical music is better than other kinds.

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