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Scientists Link Music to Food, Drugs, Sex

Ever felt shivers of pleasure run through your body after listening to a particularly scintillating solo or intoxicating rhythm? Ever wonder how that intense enjoyment gets expressed in the body? Well, the precise way in which the music you hear becomes physical pleasure is still a mystery, but two Canadian scientists have found the regions of the brain that start the shivers – and they’re the same regions that regulate the pleasure we take from food, drugs and sex. Not that you didn’t know that all along.

Anne J. Blood and Robert J. Zatorre, both working at McGill University in Montreal, reported these findings in the Sept. 25 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists found volunteers with eight or more years of musical training, then asked them to listen to music they enjoyed while hooked up to a positron emission tomography scanner. When the volunteers reported feeling those elusive but ecstatic shivers running up and down their bodies, Blood and Zatorre used the images from the PET scanner to compare the level of activity in various regions of their brains with “control” images taken when no music was playing.

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