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I've recently listened to a podcast, "The music in your brain", in which Dr. Daniel Levitin suggests that:

  • Soothing music can trigger release of oxytocin
  • Sad music triggers release of prolactin
  • An unknown kind of music triggers release of dopamine.

This may be related to my previous question about "psychoactive music"

Is there evidence to support the claim that music can trigger the release of specific neurotransmitters in the brain?

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See also my answer to "Can music be addictive ?" – azam Feb 20 at 6:02
To verify such claims, you can do an psychological experiment or undergo brain scanning procedure. – javin abella Jun 3 at 4:46
as discussed here:…, asking if something causes a certain type of neurotransmitter to be released is a very poorly defined question. much better to ask how music affects activity in particular brain areas. – honi Jun 8 at 21:30

Music is known as a form of an abstract stimulus, which can arouse feelings of euphoria, similar to tangible rewards that involve the striatal (corpus striatum) dopamine system.

In a study, published in nature neuroscience, researchers used the neurochemical specificity of 11C Raclopride positron emission tomography scanning, combined with psychophysiological measures of autonomic nervous system activity, to find endogenous dopamine release in the striatum at peak emotional arousal during music listening. To examine the time course of dopamine release, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging with the same stimuli and listeners, and found a functional dissociation: the caudate was more involved during the anticipation and the nucleus accumbens was more involved during the experience of peak emotional responses to music. These results indicate that intense pleasure in response to music can lead to dopamine release in the striatal system. Notably, the anticipation of an abstract reward can result in dopamine release in an anatomical pathway distinct from that associated with the peak pleasure itself.

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Disclaimer: I will keep editing my answer, this is just a start!


  • Krumhansl, C.L. An exploratory study of musical emotions and psychophysiology. Can. J. Exp. Psychol. 51, 336–353 (1997).
  • Egerton, A. et al. The dopaminergic basis of human behaviors: a review of molecular imaging studies. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 33, 1109–1132 (2009).
  • Dube, L. & Lebel, J. The content and structure of laypeople’s concept of pleasure. Cogn. Emot. 17, 263–295 (2003).
  • Sloboda, J. & Juslin, P.N. Psychological perspectives on music and emotion. in Music and Emotion: Theory and Research (ed. Sloboda, J.) 71–104 (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001).
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And a great start it is! +1 – Christiaan Jun 8 at 21:16
@Christiaan Thank you very much! – Jordi Zambrino Jun 8 at 21:17

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