The experience of music is often one of life's greatest pleasures, a mysterious phenomenon that has brain scientists searching for answers. Experimental results have been featured at SXSW, and 2016 GRAMMY Foundation Grant Program recipients included neurological research groups receiving grants.
Recently, The Atlantic published a summary of brain research that was issued last year in Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, approaching this mystery from a surprising angle.
Between 3 to 5 percent of humans are estimated to have a condition known as musical anhedonia — meaning they don't get what all the fuss is about when it comes to music. "The only suffering is being mocked by other people, because they don't understand it," said Allison Sheridan, one of the millions of people who fit in this category. "Everybody loves music, right?"
This research combined questionnaires with brain scans to discover people like Sheridan who lack a connection between the auditory regions of their brains and the areas that experience reward in the form of pleasure. The absence of a connection was visible in brain scans of the people who claimed to experience no specific feelings of pleasure when listening to music.
Check out The Atlantic's full piece, "Inside The Heads Of People Who Don't Like Music," to learn how this study is leading to new answers about music's mystery, and how music physically affects those of us who do love to listen.