Want to kick the habit? Play Some Music (Matings Part 5)

[[…continuing what was started in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1), Sex on the Beach (Matings Part 2), Sing Me a Little Song (Matings Part 3) and Sing Me to Sleep That I Might Learn Thee Loves Me (Matings Part 4)]]

If you’ve following my last few posts you know I’ve been studying how sounds affect people. This is known as psychophysics and more directly, psycho-acoustics. It’s fascinating stuff.

For example, did you know that the parts of the brain that respond to music are involved in the response mechanisms to addictive substances and behaviors?

The evidence comes from various brain-scanning technologies (PET, fMRI, etc) and targeted drug therapies.

And it gets a little better, too. Not only abuse drugs, but it seems these neuronal circuits also are involved in our enjoyment of food and sex.

Food, sex and music.

Reminds me of Yasgur’s Farm.

Seriously, there’s a reason responses to food, sex, abuse drugs and music all occur in similar brain areas.

Imagine yourself as an amoeba in the primordial slime a few billion years ago. There were only two things you really wanted to do; eat and replicate. In fact, there wasn’t much about your primitive biology that was geared to doing anything else. Not only your primitive biology but the primitive biologies of every other living organism that was going to survive, eating and replicating were extremely important, and because they were you and your kind survived.

A few million years go by. Your multi-cellular. You might even be swimming in some ocean and getting ready to traipse across some land. There’s really only two reasons you’d want to do that. First, there might be food. Second, there might be someone cute.

Food and sex still rule.

Many million more years go by. Many, many. You’re walking around on the land now and you might still be swimming. You might be flying or gliding. In all cases, your mobility is a function of your need to eat — find food — and reproduce — find yourself a cutie. These two functions have taken on such importance to both your and your species’ survival that your brain has started to do things to get your attention when you eat or mate. It started to develop some reward circuitry and about the only time it fires is when you’re doing things that directly insure both your and your species’ survival.

Food and sex again. Only now we’re getting rewarded in new ways for our efforts.

Lots more millions of years go by. You’ve done well. There are so many of your species now that in order to reproduce you have to demonstrate that you’re better than your peers. How might you do that? Evolution comes up with a way. Originally your flopping around or flapping your wings or clapping your flippers happened by accident but it still made potential mates look your way rather than at your peers. Given eons those accidental sounds became intentional mating calls, tweets, splashes and flaps.

Then we started adding rhythms so that potential mates would be able to pick our grunts and groans out of the crowd.

Then we started howling and calling. That’s how music was born.

And the ones of us who made the best music got the most reward.

It’s those reward circuits that drugs of abuse fire. The same ones that got us standing up on our hind legs and reading these words rather than dying off millenia ago.

Knowing their origins, it’s not odd at all that food, sex, abuse drugs and music go together, is it?

So if you really want to kick the habit, learn to play some music. Food, sex and drugs are sometimes recognized as addictional vectors in our society. Not so with music. Not yet.


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