A Canadian Professor and neurologist recently published a study in Nature Human Behavior, claiming to have altered people’s taste in music temporarily by directing magnetic pulses at their brains.

Professor Robert Zatorre of Canadian McGill University said that demonstrating the biological way people appreciate music and how it can be altered is “an important – and remarkable – demonstration that the circuitry behind these complex responses is now becoming better understood.”

His study used a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation. According to the Independent:

“Scientists managed to change the enjoyment of music felt by their subjects. Not only did the treatment alter the way participants rated music, it even affected the amount of money they were willing to spend on it.”

They specifically hit a region of the brain called the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

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Stimulation of this region releases dopamine, a very simple and widely understood concept in biology: dopamine and serotonin basically equal pleasure. The study involved stimulating a dopamine releasing region of the brain, which could lead a person to further appreciate whatever type of music they are shown, similiar to the way people take MDMA and then enjoy music.

The study didn’t exactly change people’s taste in music to where they would suddenly dislike a certain genre or intensely prefer another genre, but it simply released pleasure chemicals for any type of music.

Zatorre continued:

“Showing that this circuit can be manipulated so specifically in relation to music opens the door for many possible future applications in which the reward system may need to be up- or down-regulated.”

Does it seem odd that scientific research is sounding so basic? Everyone knows about dopamine and serotonin, and many more are familiar with using magnetic pulses to stimulate its release. It makes you wonder if some really advanced scientific research isn’t taking place behind the scenes.

One thing taking place behind the scenes, powerful corporations such as General Electric are trying to take advantage of this magnetic pulse technology. According to GE Reports:

There are millions of Americans who battle depression every year and many of them fail to respond to pills and other standard treatments or suffer from side effects. “This group of patients often lives in agony, but we thought there must be another way to treat depression,” says Dr. Mark Demitrack, chief medical officer of Neuronetics. “What if you could stimulate the brain from the outside, without drugs, and make it heal?”

The team at Neuronetics pursued a non-invasive technology called “transcranial magnetic stimulation,” or TMS, which uses a small but powerful magnet to deliver electromagnetic energy to the brain tissue through the skull. The U.S. Federal Drug Administration approved its NeuroStar TMS Therapy in 2008, and the company has since become the leader in the field.

On Monday, Neuronetics received $34 million in new investment from GE Ventures and its existing investors. The money will help the company expand the availability of treatment and support more research, including new applications focused on young patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD).”

Unfortunately when technology like this is developed, the world’s largest corporations such as General Electric are quick to pour millions into it for their own applications. Hopefully the common people will have access to new technologies for their own purposes before powerful entities take control of them: people need new technologies decentralized and freely available.


Images credit: cliparts, Frontiersin