Food and Drugs? Reward Your Brain Instead With Art and Music

Our brains are complicated, amazing machines. While neuroscience alone can’t resolve the psychological conflict and emotional pain that are addressed by trained therapists and counselors, it can provide fascinating insight into how we respond to our experiences. Recently, neuroscience has showed us more about how the brain perceives art and music. Art activates the brain’s “reward” centers, providing the same stimulation we can get from taking drugs or gambling. Similarly, music triggers a rush in dopamine, which is released into the brain when we have sex or eat food that we enjoy. The next time you’re tempted to self-soothe your blues or anger with binge eating or even more harmful vices, try an alternate approach. A healthy meal and a walk through a local art gallery or a listen to your favorite CD can be equally rewarding, and far more beneficial, than the alternatives.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • XC

    XC

    January 13th, 2011 at 3:12 AM

    Wow…Does this mean we are actually nearing the day when drug addictions can be treated with simple meals,arts and music? That would be great, wouldn’t it?!

  • Toni B

    Toni B

    January 13th, 2011 at 7:45 AM

    I have always been one of those heavy girls who seeks comfort from food, even though I know good and well that while it makes me feel ok when I first start, eventually I just get numb and start stuffing things in without even tasting. Hence the weight issues too. Soothe with music you say? I will give this a try. I know that the other habits will be difficult to break but at this point in my life I am willing to give anything a try. Nothing else has broken through and really helped me in the past for the long term so this may be what I have been looking for.

  • CleanLiving87

    CleanLiving87

    January 13th, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    As the name implies, art therapy incorporates therapeutic principles with artistic endeavors (for example, sculpting, drawing and painting). Art therapy participants are encouraged to complete creative activities as a means of identifying and addressing issues related to their personal challenges.

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