Music in the brain: The first imaging genetic study linking dopaminergic genes to music

December 21, 2016

Sounds, such as music and noise, are capable of reliably affecting individuals' moods and emotions, possibly by regulating brain dopamine, a neurotransmitter strongly involved in emotional behavior and mood regulation.

However, the relationship of sound environments with mood and emotions is highly variable across individuals. A putative source of variability is genetic background.

In this regard, a new imaging genetics study directed by Professor Elvira Brattico from Aarhus University and conducted in two Italian hospitals in collaboration with the University of Helsinki (Finland) has provided the first evidence that the effects of music and noise on affective behavior and brain physiology are associated with genetically determined dopamine functionality.

In particular, this study, published in the journal Neuroscience, revealed that a functional variation in dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2 rs1076560) modulates the impact of music as opposed to noise on mood states and emotion-related prefrontal and striatal brain activity, evidencing a differential susceptibility for the affect-modulatory effects of music and noise on the GG and GT genotypes.

In more details, results showed mood improvement after music exposure in GG subjects and mood deterioration after noise exposure in GT subjects. Moreover, the music as opposed to noise environment decreased the striatal activity of GT subjects as well as the prefrontal activity of GG subjects while processing emotional faces.

These results are novel in identifying a biological source of variability in the impact of sound environments on emotional responses. The first author of the study, Tiziana Quarto, Ph.D. student at University of Helsinki under supervision of Prof. Brattico, further comments:

"Our approach allowed the observation of the link between genes and phenotypes via a true biological path that goes from functional genetic variations (for which the effects on molecular function is known) to brain physiology subtending behavior. The use of this approach is especially important when the investigated behavior is complex and very variable across subjects, because this means that many biological factors are involved".

"This study represents the first use of the imaging genetics approach in the field of music and sounds in general. We are really excited about our results because they suggest that even a non-pharmacological intervention such as music, might regulate mood and emotional responses at both the behavioral and neuronal level," says Professor Elvira Brattico.

"More importantly, these findings encourage the search for personalized music-based interventions for the treatment of brain disorders associated with aberrant dopaminergic neurotransmission as well as abnormal mood and emotion-related brain activity".
-end-
Facts:

Study design: basic research.

Principal Investigator on the study was: Professor Elvira Brattico, Center for Music in the Brain, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University.

The study was performed in collaboration with: Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neuroscience, and Sense Organs, University of Bari 'Aldo Moro', Bari, Italy.

Aarhus University

Related Dopamine Articles from Brightsurf:

Dopamine surge reveals how even for mice, 'there's no place like home'
''There's no place like home,'' has its roots deep in the brain.

New dopamine sensors could help unlock the mysteries of brain chemistry
In 2018, Tian Lab at UC Davis Health developed dLight1, a single fluorescent protein-based biosensor.

Highly sensitive dopamine detector uses 2D materials
A supersensitive dopamine detector can help in the early diagnosis of several disorders that result in too much or too little dopamine, according to a group led by Penn State and including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and universities in China and Japan.

Dopamine neurons mull over your options
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba have found that dopamine neurons in the brain can represent the decision-making process when making economic choices.

Viewing dopamine receptors in their native habitat
A new study led by UT Southwestern researchers reveals the structure of the active form of one type of dopamine receptor, known as D2, embedded in a phospholipid membrane.

Significant differences exist among neurons expressing dopamine receptors
An international collaboration, which included the involvement of the research team from the Institut de Neurociències of the UAB (INC-UAB), has shown that neurons expressing dopamine D2 receptors have different molecular features and functions, depending on their anatomical localization within the striatum.

How dopamine drives brain activity
Using a specialized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sensor that can track dopamine levels, MIT neuroscientists have discovered how dopamine released deep within the brain influences distant brain regions.

Novelty speeds up learning thanks to dopamine activation
Brain scientists led by Sebastian Haesler (NERF, empowered by IMEC, KU Leuven and VIB) have identified a causal mechanism of how novel stimuli promote learning.

Evidence in mice that childhood asthma is influenced by the neurotransmitter dopamine
Neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine communicate with T cells to enhance allergic inflammation in the lungs of young mice but not older mice, researchers report Nov.

Chronic adversity dampens dopamine production
People exposed to a lifetime of psychosocial adversity may have an impaired ability to produce the dopamine levels needed for coping with acutely stressful situations.

Read More: Dopamine News and Dopamine Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.