A team of scientists from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Barcelona decided to look into something called musical anhedonia. This is where someone is unable to gain any pleasure from music, despite being able to enjoy other rewarding things, such as food. Their study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience and they found some quite interesting results.
A total of 38 volunteers were recruited for the study, with around a third of those suffering from musical anhedonia. Classical music was played to the volunteers while the scientists using functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan their brains. They were also asked whether they enjoyed the music, ranking their enjoyment on a scale of one to four.
What the researchers found was quite interesting, as there seemed to be differences in the brains of those who enjoyed music and those who found it a bit “meh.” Those with musical anhedonia were believed to have less white matter connecting their auditory cortex to the part of the brain’s reward circuit, called the ventral striatum. This lack of strong connection means that those who don’t enjoy music so much are unable to connect rhythmic sound to their reward circuit.
Next time someone tells you they don’t really like music, let them know that it could just be because of the way their brain is wired. Or it may be that they just need to listen to some better music!