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Music and Pleasure John DeTittaImagine a future where you’re walking down the street and all of a sudden you hear a song that gives you such an emotional connection that you immediately stop what you’re doing, walk into the store, and buy the album that the song is on. Interestingly enough, someone else walks by the store immediately after you and the same exact thing happens… what’s going on here? It might not be to far in the future when marketers and businesses can scan your brain and identify your willingness to purchase a new song or album. In a recent article scientists ran a variety of tests that looked at one specific area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens located deep within your brain. These scientists found that the more active that the nucleus accumbens is when you’re listening to new music, the more likely you are to shell out your hard earned cash for it.

The study that sparked this finding was published in the journal, Nature Neuroscience, found that not only did people receive shots of dopamine (the neurotransmitter in the brain associated with pleasure and reward) when they heard their favorite part of a song, but they also received an increased level of dopamine right before their favorite part as well. This was very interesting to the scientists because it seems to indicate that anticipation is a very integral part to deriving pleasure from listening to music.

Now back to the scenario I brought up in the beginning. If companies can now how a brain looks when it is enjoying a new piece of music, and if they can reasonably guess that someone will buy that piece of music as well–I don’t think that brain scans to see if you’d like to buy a certain piece of music is too far off in the future. It sounds a little scary- but at least we won’t have to listen to music that we won’t enjoy any more!