I’m sure we’ve all met people who don’t find joy in music. They might claim they enjoy certain “catchy” tunes, but you’d never find them fighting over the playlist at a party or introducing you to new bands.
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You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s something inherently wrong with these people and now we have scientific proof of it. Researchers at the University of Barcelona and the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University have discovered that people with a condition known as ‘musical anhedonia’ (the inability to find joy in music) showed reduced functional connectivity between ortical regions responsible for processing sound and subcortical regions related to reward.
The study looked at 45 healthy participants who completed a questionnaire rating their level of sensitivity to music, before being split into three groups depending on their score. They were made to listen to musical excerpts while inside an MRI machine.
Using the data from the machine, the study group found that while listening to decent music, specific musical anhedonics presented a reduction in the activity of the Nucleus Accumbens, a key subcortical structure of the reward network.
Robert Zatorre, an MNI neuroscientist and one of the paper’s co-authors said:
These findings not only help us to understand individual variability in the way the reward system functions, but also can be applied to the development of therapies for treatment of reward-related disorders, including apathy, depression, and addiction.
It might also explain why some people listen to utter shite and some people like real music. Perhaps they could find a cure for the former camp and then we could eradicate singers like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber forever. Although it looks like Bieber’s doing a good job of that all by himself.