Drug can make music fans “not feel anything” when listening to favorite tunes

Apparently, a drug used to treat heroine addicts can do more than make you not want drugs; it can make you stop enjoying your favorite music. Naltrexone is used to treat opioid and alcohol addictions. It works by blocking a user’s opioid receptors – the neurochemical pathway that’s activated during sex, gambling, or eating sugary foods.

New research out of McGill University found that the drug can also interfere with a taker’s ability to enjoy music:

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“For the study … 17 participants listened to music they enjoy in the laboratory at McGill University. On one day, they did so after taking naltrexone, a drug that binds to opioid receptors and blocks the activity of opiates (it is also used to treat people addicted to heroin and alcohol). On a second day, they listened to music they like after taking an inactive placebo.

“The researchers found that when study subjects took naltrexone, they reported their favorite songs were no longer pleasurable (there was no change with the placebo). However, when they listened to music they didn’t have strong feelings about, the drug didn’t make a significant difference.

“The participants said their favorite music ‘still sounded pretty, but they weren’t moved by it’ under the influence of the opioid-blocker, says McGill neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, who authored the study along with postdoctoral researcher Mona Lisa Chanda and Adiel Mallik, a Ph.D. student. ‘Normally it made them feel good, but [naltrexone] left them not feeling anything.’

“Previous work by Valorie Salimpoor, from Canada’s Rotman Research Institute, has shown that the neurotransmitter dopamine is involved in the ‘reward’ associated with music, says Josep Marco-Pallarés, a neuroscientist at the University of Barcelona. However, the Scientific Reports paper is the first to his knowledge to conclusively show opioids also play a role in the sensation, he says.”

Check out more at Newsweek.

Photo credit: Hendrike

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