I often wondered what sorts of brain chemicals were involved in music enjoyment — I’ve definitely noticed similar emotional effects between songs I enjoy (especially cranked up while driving) and other things like caffeine. Nice quick interview at Wired News about it.
WN: What are we learning about the link between music and emotion in the brain?
Levitin: Music activates the same parts of the brain and causes the same neurochemical cocktail as a lot of other pleasurable activities like orgasms or eating chocolate — or if you’re a gambler winning a bet or using drugs if you’re a drug user. Serotonin and dopamine are both involved.
Another interesting point he makes:
Levitin: (Research has shown that) if women could choose who they’d like to be impregnated by, they’d choose a rock star. There’s something about the rock star’s genes that is signaling creativity, flexibility of thinking, flexibility of mind and body, an ability to express and process emotions — not to mention that (musical talent) signals that if you can waste your time on something that has no immediate impact on food-gathering and shelter, youâ€™ve got your food-gathering and shelter taken care of.