In a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there was an interesting review as titled above:PNAS Jun 18 2013 vol110 10430-10437.
It discusses of the neuroscientific findings about the mechanism how we get pleasure from music. It says that a cortical loop between temporal auditory areas and frontal cortices is important for memorizing musical information as working memory as well as for recognizing the structural regularities in musical patterns. The latter leads to expectancies of the following note/rhythm.
This review also tells that the mesolimbic striatal system is involved in reward, motivation and pleasure in music as well as the emotional activities. It is mediated by the doperminergic system. the author proposes pleasure in music arises from interactions between cortical loops mentioned above and this subcortical system responsible for reward and valuation.
I sighed deeply how far the neuroscience has gone in research for our mental activities. This reminded of our son studying these voluminous new insights in medicine. There must be much more knowledges medical students are required to be doctors. At the same time, I won't miss some hypothetical logics in these research works. One example is that some research takes sympathetic nerve system phenomena would represent the amount of pleasure, which looked to me too simplistic. Maybe, further studies would confirm or renew these findings. But this review is still stimulating to me at present. The direction the studies are heading to looks promising to me.
I am inpressed at the hypothesis that expectation for the following musical pattern is related with the resulting emotion of reward. They say that it could be a ground of the pleasure in music. The author also mention the parallelism between music and speech in evolution. If I could paraphrase speech to communication by CW, it is what I have thought of pleasure in CW conversation. Refer to this article We expect what will follow after certain conversational content on CW. If it synchronizes with the tempo of thinking, it always intellectually stimulating us. If our expectation goes right, we could be satisfied at that. In this situation, expectation may activate our doperminergic system which leads to the emotion of reward and pleasure as in the case of music perception. I am not sure if we could paraphrase the findings in music to CW conversation. But if it is applicable, there is a reason we compare CW to music as stated here.
The author introduces Darwin's words in his autobiography as follows. "If I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibl;y injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeeding the emotional part of our nature." I wonder, as a friend of mine told, if we could replace music to CW conversation in these impressive sentences. If our ancestors in CW conversation have been right in their naming CW as music, it might be not only an accidental idea but must be based on a inherent intuiton.