Why is Music So Appealing?

Have you ever wondered why some music is just so appealing to you?

Do you begin to dance or move to the beat when you listen to music you like? Have you ever wondered why some music is just so appealing to you?

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Music moves people of all cultures; it is an endless plane of possibilities with no constraints. Some researchers from Stanford reported that when listening to a new piece of classical music, different people show the same patterns of synchronized activity in several brain areas, suggesting some level of universal experience [1].

In the latest issue of Science, Salimpoor, now a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, reported, that music triggers activity in the nucleus accumbens, the same brain structure that releases the “pleasure chemical” dopamine during sex and eating [2]. A few years ago, they also performed a brain scanning experiment to prove the dopamine theory in which participants listened to music that gave them chills. The researchers then injected them with a radioactive tracer that binds to the receptors of dopamine. With this technique, the researchers showed that 15 minutes after the participants listened to their favorite song, their brains flooded with dopamine [1]. Music also activates the amygdala, which is involved in the processing of emotion, as well as areas of the prefrontal cortex involved in abstract decision making [2].

Essentially, the human body makes patterns based on the rhythms made by music. Everyone is sort of “wired” differently; that’s why all of us listen and connect with different types of music. The body, aided by the release of dopamine, finds music pleasurable, explaining why it is so enjoyable to listen to. Music, also connected to parts of the brain involving memory, can even associate certain songs with certain events in the past, such as in childhood.


[1] Lemonick, Michael D. “Why Your Brain Craves Music.” Time, Time, 15 Apr. 2013, science.time.com/2013/04/15/music/.

[2] Hughes, Virginia. “Why Does Music Feel So Good?” National Geographic, 11 Apr. 2013, http://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2013/04/11/why-does-music-feel-so-good/.


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