Headphones That Stimulate the Release of Dopamine Could Give You a Drug-Free High

February 25, 2016 | Elizabeth Knowles

NERVANA headphones will stimulate the release of dopamine in your brain
Photo credit: Image courtesy of NERVANA

They go on sale next month.

They say that listening to music is a great way to de-stress and relax. But what if slipping on a pair of headphones could do more than just send soothing nature sounds or distracting music to your ears?

NERVANA, a Florida-based tech company is set to release a very particular set of headphones next month. Not only will they function as regular headphones, they will stimulate the release of dopamine in your brain by sending a low-power electrical signal through your ear canal to stimulate the Vagus nerve.

This extra release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in addiction and affects the brain’s reward and pleasure centres, will provide “a safe and natural way to change how people feel and experience the world,” according to the company’s website. In a press release, they call it “a positively altered state of mind.”

SEE ALSO: 5 Drug-Free Ways to Increase the Serotonin in Your Brain

Although NERVANA’s claims haven’t been peer-reviewed, and very little information about the technology is publicly available, the headphones have received positive feedback.

“Conor and Joel said they felt an electric prickle when they first put on the headset, which intensified as they cranked up the volume and the intensity of their experience on the generator. […] For about an hour afterward, they both felt unusually calm and happy,” reported Futurism.

“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,” Futurism reported about another tester.

There are three different ways to use the headphones. Either they can be used normally to play music, in which case the electrical signal follows the beat of the music; they can be used with pre-programmed patterns; or they can be used as a headset that takes in ambient sounds and adjusts the rhythm of the signals to the environment you are in. In the second case, the headset could be used somewhere like a concert or music festival with terrific results.

The headphones are set to go on sale next month for $299 — this includes the generator and earbuds — and NERVANA claims that they are one of a kind!

“The entirety of the NERVANA Headphones were designed in-house and are made by our company using custom-designed molds and circuitry. A Headphone like this does not exist anywhere,” they say on their website.


Editor's Note (February 25): The title has been updated to eliminate any confusion between the effects of the NERVANA headphones and a drug-induced high.

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