In other words, the brain assigns value to music through the interaction of ancient dopaminergic reward circuitry, involved in reinforcing behaviours that are absolutely necessary for our survival such as eating and sex, with some of the most evolved regions of the brain, involved in advanced cognitive processes that are unique to humans.
"This is interesting because music consists of a series of sounds that when considered alone have no inherent value, but when arranged together through patterns over time can act as a reward, says Dr. Robert Zatorre, researcher at The Neuro and co-director of the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research. "The integrated activity of brain circuits involved in pattern recognition, prediction, and emotion allow us to experience music as an aesthetic or intellectual reward."
"The brain activity in each participant was the same when they were listening to music that they ended up purchasing, although the pieces they chose to buy were all different," adds Dr. Salimpoor. "These results help us to see why people like different music each person has their own uniquely shaped auditory cortex, which is formed based on all the sounds and music heard throughout our lives. Also, the sound templates we store are likely to have previous emotional associations."
An innovative aspect of this study is how closely it mimics real-life music-listening experiences. Researchers used a similar interface and prices as iTunes. To replicate a real life scenario as much as possible and to assess reward value objectively, individuals could purchase music with their own money, as an indication that they wanted to hear it again. Since musical preferences are influenced by past associations, only novel music excerpts were selected (to minimize explicit predictions) using music recommendat
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