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Medical Mysteries of Music

People Who Don’t Like Music Might Have a “Disconnected” Brain

Chances are pretty good that if you follow this blog, you enjoy music. Many people enjoy music, but there are those who just don’t enjoy it. New research suggest that those who do not like it might have reduced activity in specific areas of the brain.

From the Daily Mail:

“Using fMRI scans to track brain activity, a new study found that these people have lower blood flow in the brain’s reward networks when exposed to a tune, suggesting they may have less functional connectivity between the auditory processing and reward centers”.

These findings support a previous idea that music enjoyment comes from interactions between auditory neural networks and the brain’s reward networks.

In the new study, published to PNAS, researchers studied the brain activity of three groups of 15 participants.

According to the Daily Mail:

“One group was considered to be indifferent, another was deemed to be ‘normal.’

“And, the third group was made up of people who get intense pleasure from music”.

Researchers asked the participants to provide two pieces of emotionally pleasing instrumental music and used Spotify to generate similar songs. Then, the research team took fMRI images of the participants’ brains while listening to music and participating in other rewarding activities such as gambling.

Participants who did not find enjoyment in listening to music showed lower blood flow in their brains’ reward system compared to participants who find pleasure in music. However, these findings do not indicate problems with the reward system, as there were no significant differences between the three groups during the gambling activities.

Additionally, the Daily Mail comments that:

“They also found that this group showed decreased functional connectivity between the right auditory cortex and ventral striatum.

And, those with a ‘greater than average’ response to music showed enhanced connectivity”.

In other words, if you have a friend who doesn’t enjoy listening to music, don’t worry, they’re not broken. Their brain is just a little disconnected.

Let us know what you think!

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