There are many who suffer without their gig or clubbing fix.

Now research shows music is as addictive as alcohol, fast food and cocaine.

Scientists say it triggers an area of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens - the reward centre.

Their findings could explain the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” lifestyle of music legends such as David Bowie, Sir Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Robbie Williams.

Using scans, scientists found firing up the neurons increased listeners’ enjoyment, analysis revealed.

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On the other hand, pleasure dropped when they were dampened.

Study corresponding author Dr Ernest Mas-Herrero, of McGill University in Canada, said: “These results indicate the engagement of the nucleus accumbens in particular is indispensable to experience rewarding feeling from music.”

The more participants appreciated the sounds, the more it “lit up”.

Activity with auditory areas of grey matter “became synchonised”, said the Canadian team.

The nucleus accumbens produces the feelgood chemical dopamine.

It is found in the ventral striatum, which is responsible for decision making, and holds the key to hedonistic behaviours by controlling food, sex, drug or gambling urges.

Despite no obvious biological benefits, humans love music - a mystery that has baffled experts for decades.

HeraldScotland: It is thought the research may provide new insights into the lifestyles of music legends such as David Bowie.It is thought the research may provide new insights into the lifestyles of music legends such as David Bowie.

The study, which has been published in JNeurosci, nails down the reason for the first time.

A group of 17 pop fans were exposed to a set of songs while brain activity was measured with fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging).

The participants, all young men and women in their 20s, listened to five selfselected tracks and ten chosen by an experimenter. Beforehand, their reward circuit was indirectly excited or inhibited through transcranial magnetic stimulation.

The technique involves zapping it with small electric currents via a skull cap.

Dr Ernest Mas-Herrero said: “Exciting the reward circuit prior to hearing music increased the pleasure participants felt when listening to the songs, while inhibiting it decreased pleasure.

“These induced pleasure changes were linked to changes in activity in the nucleus accumbens - a key region of the reward circuit.

“The participants with the greatest difference in pleasure also showed the greatest difference in synchronised activity between auditory and reward regions.

“These results indicate interactions between auditory and reward regions drive the pleasure we feel when listening to music.”

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Evidence is growing that those who have a deep passion for music are more prone to sex, drug or food addiction.

Music’s universality and its ability to deeply affect emotions also suggest an evolutionary origin.

Dr Mas-Herrero added: “Music can act as a powerful motivational force in our everyday life, driving us towards music-related activities at the expense of time, money and effort - from waiting in line for hours in the rain or snow to buy a concert ticket to investing years of training to play an instrument.”

Unlike drinking and taking recreational drugs, listening to music is good for you - and it is hard to “overdose”. Studies have shown it buoys mood and fends off depression.

It also boosts blood flow in ways similar to statins and lowers levels of stress-related hormones. Listening to music before an operation can improve post-surgery outcomes - and even ease pain.

Previous research has shown it stimulates memories, increases an individual’s ability to exercise over long periods and helps people to reduce their food intake.