You Get High All The Time And You Don’t Even Realize It

You don’t need pot to enjoy music, as some people I know believe. Your brain chemicals make sure of that.

Music and the brain
Country singer Willie Nelson smoking weed (photo via midliferocksblog.com)

Right now, I want you to listen to one of your favorite songs.

Go ahead. Pull up Spotify, YouTube, or whatever app you use and listen to, say, 30 seconds of a song.

I’ll wait…

If you need help choosing a song, I’d listen to Coldplay’s “Fix You.”

Okay, now that you’re done listening, I have one thing to say:

You just got dopamine’d. 

While listening to that song, your brain just released chemicals — good ones like dopamine and oxytocin — which made you feel something. Something good.

The New York Times says “the idea that reward is partly related to anticipation (or the prediction of a desired outcome)” is an established fact in neuroscience.

Basically, when you listen to a song, your brain is constantly (and automatically) trying to figure out what’s coming next. And your brain rewards itself when it gets it right, and also when it’s wrong.

Anticipation in music is the key. It gives you a high. A different high than pot does, but still a high.

So the next time you’re at a concert or listening to music in the car, remember what your brain is doing.

It’s working hard to get you high.

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