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A Moment of Science

Those Who Don’t Like Music

As it turns out, not everyone loves music. How is this possible?

A human ear

Photo: Simon James (flickr)

For folks who're indifferent to music, it's not ears that are to blame, but the mind.

Everybody likes music, right? I mean, no matter who you are, where you live, or what your ethnic or cultural background is, people everywhere derive some pleasure from listening to their favorite music.

Except People Who Don’t

Apparently, though, some people are simply not capable of enjoying music. This not because they can’t experience pleasure at all. People who don’t “get” music typically enjoy sex, food, money and many other pleasurable things. Just not music.

According to at least one study, it’s not necessarily due to amusia a condition that hampers the brain’s ability to process music. People with what’s being called “specific musical anhedonia” have no trouble making sense of or hearing music properly. They’re just indifferent to it.

Recent Research

In the study, researchers at the University of Barcelona examined thirty subjects split into three groups. Each participant listened to different types of music and rated how much they enjoyed them.

They were also made to respond to questions in order to win or lose between twenty-five cents and nearly three dollars to test if the participants were only immune to music, or immune to other “pleasures”, like the prospect of winning money.

Mysteries Remain

Meanwhile, the scientists measured their emotional response to each task by analyzing heart rate and how well their skin conducted electricity.

And the researchers found that some of the participants had no emotional reaction to the music even when they were emotionally stimulated by the money incentive task. The researchers don’t know why some people derive no pleasure from music. Further research may provide an answer.

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