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Does Everyone Enjoy Listening to Music?

By Kevin Hellyer
Published Jul 08, 2020
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Scientists have found that listening to rousing music can cause the brain to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical associated with both human motivation and addiction. However, other research has determined that 3 to 5 percent of the world's population is affected by “specific musical anhedonia,” a neurological condition in which people are unable to respond to music. In other words, they don't derive any pleasure or enjoyment from listening to music.

People with musical anhedonia never feel the urge to dance, nor do they rock or bob to music. Listening to music doesn't make them feel sad, nostalgic, or joyful, and they never get goosebumps from listening to a particularly powerful song. There’s no emotional or physiological response at all for these listeners.

Missing out on the music:

  • For some, musical anhedonia is a lifelong trait. In other cases, it may be a response to trauma or a symptom of another condition, such as depression.

  • People with specific musical anhedonia can derive pleasure from other sources, such as food or success. It's just music that doesn't affect them.

  • Musical anhedonia should not be confused with amusia, a condition in which people can’t process musical pitch. Amusia can be caused by brain damage, or it may be a congenital inability to process music.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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