12 Apr 2013

New music beneficial for the brain, study shows

10:22 pm on 12 April 2013

Scientists say they have discovered why humans love to listen to a new song.

A study described in the journal Science says a section of the brain lights up when people hear a piece of music for the first time, the BBC reports.

Researchers in Canada used MRI scans to study the brain activity of 19 volunteers.

When the participants were given new music to listen to, an area called the nucleus accumbens, which is in the brain's reward centre, became active.

The more they enjoyed what they were hearing, the more the region lit up.

The researchers found that the nucleus accumbens was also interacting with another region of the brain called the auditory cortical stores, an area that stores sound information based on music that people have been exposed to before.

Researchers now want to find out what drives our musical tastes - whether our brain activity can explain why some people like heavy metal, while others are drawn to jazz.