There's an excellent book called "This is your brain on music" by Daniel Levitin which I can recommend strongly to anyone interested in this subject, with a broad overview of all the latest scientific knowledge (well, as of 2006, anyway). There's plenty in there that chimes with the ideas in this thread. I learned so much about how music works emotionally, and now when I listen to music I find myself realising things like: "the reason that last chord sequence felt so unexpectedly satisfying was the novel way it resolved back to the tonic". Surprisingly, all this knowledge has only enhanced my enjoyment of music, rather than detracting from the mystique. One snippet that springs to mind is that some of the most basic capabilities of the brain - such as the ability to isolate an individual human voice from a mass of background noise and locate the source spatially - are way beyond the capabilities of the most powerful modern computers. The book explains what mathematical problems the brain must solve in order to do such tasks, and the difficulty of these things is mind-boggling. General auditory processing - inseparable from music processing - is one of the most sophisticated capabilities of the brain, if not the most sophisticated of all, and seems likely to be one of the hardest artificial intelligence problems to solve. Processing vision is a trivial problem by comparison. As such, it makes total sense to me that music can stimulate the neurological pathways in a huge variety of ways, and can produce profound effects on the body. Music is fundamental to who what we are. We were making music before the dawn of civilisation: the fairly recent discovery of 50,000-year-old flutes carved from animal bones confirms that. Yes, 50,000 years ago they were playing musical instruments - so how long before that were we singing to each other? Music may even have preceded language - I can't remember exactly what the book said about that but considering the behaviour of other animals my own view is that it's pretty much a certainty that music came first. There seem to be quite a lot of us world music fans on here! To them, and indeed to everyone else, I recommend songlines.co.uk.