Your love for music has much to do with brain connectivity

If you find no pleasure while listening to music, fMRI data suggests that you may have a decreased amount of connectivity between certain regions in your brain.

According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that, “specific musical anhedonia may be associated with a reduction in the interplay between the auditory cortex and the subcortical reward network, indicating a pivotal role of this interaction for the enjoyment of music.”

Three groups of 15 participants, with different sensitivity to music reward were studied using fMRI. Scans were taken as they listened to their favorite types of music.

The result of these scans showed that the music anhedonic participants (those who feel no pleasure listening to music) had a reduction of activity in the nucleus accumbens and decreased functional activity between the right auditory cortex and ventral striatum. However, when tested for a monetary gambling task, there were normal activations in that part of the brain. In comparison, the participants who believe they gain greater sense of pleasure from music than the average, showed an increase of connectivity between those structures.

“Our results suggest that specific musical anhedonia may be associated with a reduction in the interplay between the auditory cortex and the subcortical reward network, indicating a pivotal role of this interaction for the enjoyment of music,” the authors wrote.

Data suggests that this is an advancement toward understanding how music may have acquired reward value through evolution and is a foundation for allowing others to think outside the box when it comes to other types of aesthetic rewards.