What is Musical anhedonia?

Musical anhedonia, or specific musical anhedonia, is a brain condition where a person can’t enjoy listening to music.

Recent studies suggest that about 3 to 5% of the population has this condition. A significant discovery from a 2014 scientific study showed that people with musical anhedonia can understand music but don’t feel any positive emotions when they listen to it.

Researchers found that individuals with this condition have less communication between the brain areas that process sound and those linked to pleasure.

A study at the University of Barcelona involved 45 students taking a test to measure their sensitivity to musical rewards. The students were divided into three groups: those who don’t care about music, those with some interest, and those who are passionate about music. While listening to music, their brain activity was measured using fMRI. To make sure the experiment focused on music, participants also took other tests related to money perception during the MRI. The results showed differences between the three groups. Researchers concluded that those who “live and breathe music” had the strongest connection between the auditory cortex and the brain’s reward center. This experiment confirmed that music is linked to the brain, influencing sensory and reward areas. The connection between the auditory cortex and reward center increased in those who find joy in music. However, for people with musical anhedonia, researchers found less interaction between the auditory and reward areas compared to those who enjoy music.

MRI scans revealed that people with this condition have less connection between the nucleus accumbens and auditory cortex compared to the average person. It was also observed that individuals who enjoy music have a stronger connection in this brain area than those with musical anhedonia.

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