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Mar 07, 2014 03:19 AM EST

Some People Genuinely Hate Music, Study Finds

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A latest University of Barcelona study has found that not everybody turns to music for pleasure. Researchers have described the new condition as musical anhedonia - the inability to experience pleasure from music.

"The identification of these individuals could be very important to understanding the neural basis of music-that is, to understand how a set of notes [is] translated into emotions," Researchers Josep Marco-Pallarés said in a press release.

Listening to music helps relieve stress, anxiety and depression. The calming power of music has relaxing effect on minds and bodies, and a beneficial effect on physiological functions like slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones.

Previous studies found little evidence about this form of anhedonia. Participants reported a comparatively low sensitivity to music related rewards than other forms. Researchers concluded that there may be several explanations for low music sensitivities. Some people dislike music as they have difficulty perceiving it, a condition called amusia. Or they might simply have answered the questions incorrectly.

For the current study, the experts divided participants into three groups of 10 based on their appreciation for music - high, average, and low.

The participants took part in two different experiments - a music task, where they reported their degrees of pleasure while listening to music; and a monetary incentive delay task, where they were asked to react quickly to a target to win money.

The scientists observed that during both the experiments, there was an increased activity in the reward-related neural circuits of the participants' brains and a spike in dopamine production, the chemical that makes one feel good.

During the experiments, the researchers observed changes in skin conductance response and heart rate as physiologic indicators of emotion.

Despite normal musical perception capacities, some normal people were found to display no autonomic response to sound and music. However, the very same group of people responded well in the second experiment or to the monetary rewards.

"The idea that people can be sensitive to one type of reward and not to another suggests that there might be different ways to access the reward system and that, for each person, some ways might be more effective than others," Marco-Pallarés said.

The finding is published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

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