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Some People Hate Music, According to Science

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Not everyone enjoys music, according to science.

New research reveals proof that there are some people in the world who simply don't music in the way the rest of us do. However, these people are perfectly capable of experiencing pleasure in other ways.

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The inability to experience pleasure from music is a newly described condition known as "specific musical anhedonia".

"The identification of these individuals could be very important to understanding the neural basis of music-that is, to understand how a set of notes [is] translated into emotions," Josep Marco-Pallarés of the University of Barcelona said in a news release.

In the latest study, researcher focused on three groups of ten people, which each group consisting of participants who reported high pleasure ratings in response to music, those who reported average pleasure ratings in response to music, and those who reported low sensitivity to musical reward.

Researchers said the participants were split into groups based on their overall sensitivity to other types of rewards and their ability to perceive music.

Participants were asked to undergo two different experiments. One experiment was a music task where participants had to rate the degree of pleasure they were experiencing while listening to pleasant music. Another experiment was a monetary incentive delay task, where participants had to respond quickly to a target in order to win or avoid losing real money.

Researchers explained that both experiments have been shown to trigger reward-related neural circuits and produce a rush of dopamine. Meanwhile the researchers recorded chances of skin conductance response and heart rate as physiologic indicators of emotion.

The findings were surprising. The study revealed that some healthy and happy people do not enjoy music and show no autonomic responses to its sound, despite normal musical perception capacities. However, these people responded to monetary rewards, suggest that low sensitivity to music isn't linked to some global abnormality of the reward network.

Researchers said that latest findings provide insight into the reward system, and could lead to new treatments for addiction and affective disorders.

"The idea that people can be sensitive to one type of reward and not to another suggests that there might be different ways to access the reward system and that, for each person, some ways might be more effective than others," Marco-Pallarés concluded.

The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.



Mar 06, 2014 07:31 PM EST

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