Innovation That Matters

Headphones release happiness chemicals

Work & Lifestyle

The Nervana music system uses nerve stimulating headphones that enable the listener to feel the music.

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Most music-lovers would claim to have an emotional reaction to certain songs, and a study from Montreal’s McGill University in 2011 even found that some music can cause the release of the chemical dopamine from the brain, lifting the listener’s mood. Now, a startup called Nervana claims to be able to enhance the listening experience further still, through nerve stimulating headphones that enable the listener to feel the music.

The enhanced music system consists of a hand-held Nervana Generator and a pair of Nervana earbud headphones. When used in combination, the apparatus causes neurotransmitters to be released in the brain by stimulating the listener’s vagus nerve. To begin, pleasure-seekers plug their regular music player and Nervana headphones into the Nervana Generator. Then, when they play music, the system generates a nerve stimulation output, in sync with the music. Alternatively, party-goers can use ambient mode, which produces stimulation based on sounds from the environment.


The Nervana system won the Lifestyle and Health Competition at CES earlier this year and is expected to be available to pre-order in March for USD 299. Could other forms of entertainment be enhanced in the same way?



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