Musical anhedonia

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Musical anhedonia, also known formally as specific musical anhedonia,[1] signifies an individual's incapacity to enjoy listening to music. Recent empirical research suggests that 3 to 5% of the population are affected by it.[2] One notable finding relevant to this phenomenon was borne out of a scientific study conducted in 2014, which revealed that while those exhibiting musical anhedonia do not have a problem comprehending music, they simply fail to experience or exhibit any material form of positive emotional response from listening to it.[3]

Researchers have utilized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to study patients via scanning their brains while the patients are being presented with the auditory stimulus of musical sounds. Patients were given other psychological and emotional perception-oriented tests that were related to the notion of money during the MRI procedure to effectively control the experiment for music or to isolate the effect or effects of the independent variable of music (i.e., in other words, to make sure they only showed no emotion while listening to music). The studies revealed that, relative to the average person, individuals who are shown to exhibit this condition tend to have a significantly lesser degree of a connection in their brain between their auditory processing and reward center.[4] MRI scans also showed that people with this condition have relatively little connection between the nucleus accumbens and auditory processing compared to the average person. It was also empirically deduced that individuals who are shown to enjoy listening to music have a higher connection in this area of the brain than those who are found to have the condition.[4]

Social stigma[edit]

The majority of the world's population enjoys listening to music.[citation needed] According to some, for this reason, music can be considered to be a universal language. Individuals who suffer from musical anhedonia tend to find it challenging for themselves to understand why it is that they do not gain pleasure from listening to music. The core societal benefits that have emerged out of the new empirical research on the phenomenon are two-fold: it has helped people with this condition to better understand why they have it and it has served to educate the rest of the population that it is a real and legitimate condition that significantly impacts the lives of many around the world.[3]


  1. ^ "Musical anhedonia: why some people just don't like music". Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  2. ^ "Musical anhedonia: why some people just don't like music". Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  3. ^ a b Gregoire, Carolyn (2017-01-06). "Not Liking Music Is An Actual Neurological Condition". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  4. ^ a b Mas-Herrero, Ernest; Zatorre, Robert J.; Rodriguez-Fornells, Antoni; Marco-Pallarés, Josep (2014-03-17). "Dissociation between Musical and Monetary Reward Responses in Specific Musical Anhedonia". Current Biology. 24 (6): 699–704. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.068. ISSN 0960-9822. PMID 24613311.


  1. ^ Martínez-Molina, Noelia, et al. "Neural correlates of specific musical anhedonia." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113.46 (2016): E7337-E7345.