Sunday, May 5, 2013

Music and the Brain #3

Another important finding of a study conducted at McGill University in Montreal is that the brain’s nucleus accumbens (involved in forming expectations that may be rewarding) doesn't work alone. The nucleus accumbens interacts with the auditory cortex, an area of the brain that stores information about the sounds and music you have been exposed to. The more a given piece was rewarding, the greater the cross-talk between these regions. Similar interactions were also seen between the nucleus accumbens and other brain areas, involved in high-level sequencing, complex pattern recognition and areas involved in assigning emotional and reward value to stimuli. It appears that the brain assigns value to music through the interaction of ancient dopaminergic reward circuitry, involved in reinforcing behaviors that are absolutely necessary for human survival such as eating and sexual activity, with some of the most evolved regions of the brain, involved in advanced cognitive processes that are unique to humans. This means that the integrated activity of brain circuits involved in pattern recognition, prediction, and emotion allow human beings to experience music as an aesthetic or intellectual reward. (

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