Music in the Brain: Imaging Genetic Study Links Dopamine Genes to Music

Summary: The effect music has on people may be genetically determined by dopamine functionality, a new study reports.

Source: Aarhus University.

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.”

Image shows a woman listening to music.
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. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.

“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.”

About this neuroscience research article

Source: Aarhus University
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Abstract for “Interaction between DRD2 variation and sound environment on mood and emotion-related brain activity” by T. Quarto, M.C. Fasano, P. Taurisano, L. Fazio, L.A. Antonucci, B. Gelao, R. Romano, M. Mancini, A. Porcelli, R. Masellis, K.J. Pallesen, A. Bertolino, G. Blasi,and E. Brattico in Neuroscience. Published online December 2016 doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.11.010

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article

[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]Aarhus University “Music in the Brain: Imaging Genetic Study Links Dopamine Genes to Music.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 22 December 2016.
<https://neurosciencenews.com/dopamine-genetics-music-5806/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]Aarhus University (2016, December 22). Music in the Brain: Imaging Genetic Study Links Dopamine Genes to Music. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved December 22, 2016 from https://neurosciencenews.com/dopamine-genetics-music-5806/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Aarhus University “Music in the Brain: Imaging Genetic Study Links Dopamine Genes to Music.” https://neurosciencenews.com/dopamine-genetics-music-5806/ (accessed December 22, 2016).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]


Abstract

Interaction between DRD2 variation and sound environment on mood and emotion-related brain activity

Sounds, like music and noise, are capable of reliably affecting individuals’ mood and emotions. However, these effects are highly variable across individuals. A putative source of variability is genetic background. Here we explored the interaction between a functional polymorphism of the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2 rs1076560, G > T, previously associated with the relative expression of D2S/L isoforms) and sound environment on mood and emotion-related brain activity. Thirty-eight healthy subjects were genotyped for DRD2 rs1076560 (G/G = 26; G/T = 12) and underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during performance of an implicit emotion-processing task while listening to music or noise. Individual variation in mood induction was assessed before and after the task. Results showed mood improvement after music exposure in DRD2GG 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 findings suggest that genetic variability of dopamine receptors affects sound environment modulations of mood and emotion processing.


“Interaction between DRD2 variation and sound environment on mood and emotion-related brain activity” by T. Quarto, M.C. Fasano, P. Taurisano, L. Fazio, L.A. Antonucci, B. Gelao, R. Romano, M. Mancini, A. Porcelli, R. Masellis, K.J. Pallesen, A. Bertolino, G. Blasi,and E. Brattico in Neuroscience. Published online December 2016 doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.11.010

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