Nervana unveil headphones that stimulate pleasure by releasing serotonin
The relationship between music and emotion is self-evident. As listeners, we select the music we prefer based on the emotion we want to experience, be it happiness, aggression, or any number of other manifestations. While music itself evokes emotional responses through activating neurotransmitters, the desire to enhance these experiences by further catalyzing the release of certain chemicals has led to an almost inextricable connection between music and drugs for some.
San Diego-based startup Nervana has unleashed a new product that aims to replicate such emotional enhancements through a safer means. The company’s new line of headphones utilizes electrical pulses to trigger the release of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin – all chemicals which are directly linked with stimulating pleasure. Interesting Engineering describes how the headphones work:
Nervana headphones can be plugged into the Nervana Generator or any other music player. While listening to a song using the Nervana Headphones, a low-power electric stimulation is added to the listening experience, creating an electrical pulse synchronized to the beat of music, triggering brain reactions that allow dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin to be released. You can also use the Nervana without music by activating the ‘ambient mode’, capable of producing the same effect only with the sounds detected nearby, which would be great for a music festival, for example.
The headphones were tested at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, and met with positive reception. One user reported, “I felt like I reached a personal high point. I couldn’t stop smiling or laughing. I was like, ‘Oh wow’. For about five minutes, my happiness level was a 10 out of 10. Then it got foggier, but I was still unusually happy for about an hour.”
Nervana’s creators hope that the headphones can help users derive greater pleasure from musical experience without incurring the risks inherent in drug use. Dr. Daniel Cartledge, one of the team’s founders, noted the following:
“Taking something that basically poisons our bodies can be deadly, unfortunately, but Nervana can enhance the pleasure of music without any drugs… I think this could add great entertainment value to music festivals.”
The headphones will cost $299 and be available to order from Nervana’s website later this month.