Interesting article in the New York Times here about the experience of listening to music from a neuroscientific standpoint. It turns out that if listening to music can sometimes feel like a drug, it’s because it stimulates the same dopamine producing reward centers of the brain that most drugs do. The article also talks about how the stimulation occurs not only during the climactic moments in music pieces, but often in the moments of tension and anticipation that precede them. There are some interesting passages about how the auditory cortex allows us to “hear” music by simply imagining it, and allows us to expect certain harmonies, melodies, scales etc. while listening to music, depending on the conventions of the musical culture that we have been exposed to. And it also predictably turns out we’re more likely to click buy on iTunes if a piece of music is stimulating the auditory cortex or if listening causes dopamine to be released. The research is coming out of a lab in Montreal, and the BBC also did this piece on the work they are doing there.