Is there a connection between dance music and cravings?

Friday, 01 July, 2016

Is there a connection between dance music and cravings?

Neuroscientists at The University of Melbourne are recruiting electronic music fans for a study exploring the connection between cravings and the ‘risky’ sounds of dance music.

PhD student Kiralee Musgrove said pleasure responses to music are generated by the same primitive part of the brain — the nucleus accumbens — associated with highs from sex, drugs or chocolate. She noted, “In evolutionary terms, it makes sense that we would have a profound pleasure response to sex or food, but it’s not so obvious why music also makes our spine tingle or our heart race.

“We’re interested in why we don’t just hear music, but why we also feel it in our bodies,” she continued. “Science doesn’t really understand how the brain makes that leap from hearing to feeling.”

She said her study will look at how cravings set the scene for our pleasure responses to music. She explained, “As anyone craving a chocolate bar would know, half the pleasure is in the anticipation. We think craving typically precedes pleasure.”

Electronic music typically features a build-up, or crescendo, before a ‘drop’ or resolution, when the bass and melody lines return. Musgrove said, “In nightclubs, dancers get really excited as everything builds to the drop — they experience peak levels of craving driven by the perception of risk.

“It’s that moment when the bass is about to drop when some amazing reactions are happening inside your brain.”

While many studies have focused on people’s pleasure responses to classical music, researchers have not yet turned to music that appeals to young people. According to Musgrove, the findings could shed more light on the potential for music therapy in treating eating disorders, self-harm and substance abuse.

The researchers are looking to study recruit participants living in Melbourne, aged 18–40, by 14 July. For more information or to register for the study, visit

Image credit: ©clearviewstock/Dollar Photo Club

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