Music Highs–Useless But Good

Oct 16, 2009 • News, Research

Biologically speaking, music has no value. And yet. And yet listening to it is still one of the most rewarding activities in which we can engage. Why

A study by Valorie N. Salimpoor, Mitchel Benovoy, Gregory Longo, et al, used methods of high temporal sensitivity to see if there’s a relationship between increases in pleasure states and emotional arousal (which include things like changes in heart rate, breathing, electrodermal activity, body temperature, and pulse).

The experiment went like this: 26 people listened to self-selected intensely pleasurable music and neutral music. Results showed a strong correlation between ratings of pleasure and emotional arousal. By the same token, those who did not experience pleasure also showed no significant increases in emotional arousal.

These results suggest what emo kids have known all along: that strong emotions might be rewarding in and of themselves.

Thumbnail photo by Rossina Bossio Bossa. Information via PLoS ONE.