On the Brain: Craving music
January 12th, 2011
01:42 PM ET

On the Brain: Craving music

Scientists are learning how music affects the brain, how to treat seasonal affective disorder better and how the brain develops in infancy. Here's what's new in brain and psychology research this week:

High on music
You probably have certain music that you love listening to, but you probably didn't realize that the same brain processes that happen when you're rocking out with your MP3 player are the same as those associated with food, psychoactive drugs, sex and money. WebMD reports on a study in Nature Neuroscience showing that the brain chemical dopamine gets released when listening to music - or even anticipating listening to music - and that contributes to your subsequent feelings of pleasure.

An illuminating gadget
Here are earbuds that don't emit sound, but instead shine light that's supposed to combat seasonal affective disorder, a condition that often carries depression symptoms during winter months, when there is less light. Wired reports that these earbuds are supposed to shine light directly into your brain, according to scientists working on it. It's available now, but still going through "proper" clinical trials.

Baby's first brain cells
British researchers have scanned the brains of infants to get a clearer picture of how the brain's "wiring" develops in early childhood, Reuters reports. This research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, looked at myelination, the process by which insulating layers form around nerve cells. Results could help scientists understand many brain and psychiatric disorders better.

Myth-busting psychology
Do you know psychologists from psychiatrists? Here are some facts about psychology and mental illness from Carolyn Kaufman, who blogs for Psychology Today.

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. lmew

    I'm addicted to the song MoneyGrabber by Fitz and the Tantrums! Makes me want to dance every time I hear it!

    January 12, 2011 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • d

      Big thumbs up for Fitz!! Awesome tune!

      January 12, 2011 at 16:54 | Report abuse |
  2. SoundGuy

    I like to listen to the sounds of nature. They say that the randomness involved in these sounds is very good for the brain to be able to relax deeply. Thus listening to such sounds is great for meditating and can help substantially to fall asleep. I recommend the site http://www.transcendentaltones.com. They have lots of mp3s for free download.

    January 12, 2011 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Homer

      bird noises are annoying and the sound of water makes me p e e

      January 12, 2011 at 17:22 | Report abuse |
    • free2comment

      They may not be as random as you might think. Apageinthelife 'if it walks like a duck...'

      January 13, 2011 at 00:37 | Report abuse |
  3. kake79

    Is Dr. Gupta basically putting his stamp of approval on those earbud lights? The Wired article doesn't mention how the study was conducted. I'd like to know if this is actually a real possible treatment and not just some pseudo-scientific hokum thought up by some guys that want to make a buck.

    January 12, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      This article was posted by Elizabeth Landau, not Dr. Gupta. My own take on this is that the light earbuds might actually help SAD, but it would be due to the placebo effect. I really doubt there are light receptors in the brain... I mean, there's a slight chance there's something vestigial like that in the more primitive parts of our brain, but that's not where the light would hit coming in from your ear.

      January 12, 2011 at 18:28 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      I spend all day long looking in ears and I can guarantee that when shining light into someone's ear, it most definitely gets nowhere near their brain. It may bounce off the eardrum, back toward the light source – or, for some, get stuck in a wall of ear wax. Regardless, beyond the eardrum, it may shine into the middle ear space, but beyond there it's hitting bone.

      January 13, 2011 at 06:41 | Report abuse |
  4. Joe

    Anytime I'm feeling down I just play me some "Baby Got Back" and then I realize everything is going to be allllllright.

    January 12, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. patti

    I love to listen to music and have to turn it on when i'm in my car.

    January 12, 2011 at 17:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Greg

      Same here. If I'm in my car alone, I'm listening to music!

      January 12, 2011 at 19:21 | Report abuse |
  6. V Saxena

    This is why I love hiphop. The lyrics aren't necessarily deep, but the music gets my soul going!

    January 12, 2011 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
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    January 12, 2011 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jerry

    Nothing like a good bit of Green Day when I want to listen to some music.

    January 13, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kim

    One man's ceiling is another man's floor. What you think is music might annoy your neighbor. So, keep the electronic generated sounds low enough not to disturb your neighbor's peace.

    January 13, 2011 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Claire

    Frank Herbert's book "Dune" featured narcotic music many years ago. It's great to see science supports it!

    January 13, 2011 at 21:33 | Report abuse | Reply
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