By Ann Nyambura, published on 26 Jun 2020

The best read on music and its influence

Did you know there are people who are unable to enjoy music?

Paradoxically, not everybody loves music. Crazy right? Trust you me I also couldn’t believe it at first. But sadly, there are 3-5% of the population that does not “get” music. This is not a premeditate decision so you can stop holding your breath now. It is a neurological condition known as musical anhedonia formally known as specific musical anhedonia.

Anhedonia is a Greek term that means literally “without pleasure.” The affected are able to decipher music but fail to experience or inhabit positive emotional response from listening to it.

This condition reduces the functional connectivity between cortical regions responsible for processing sound and subcortical regions related to reward. In simpler terms the different partners of connectivity from auditory to emotion and reward centre of the brain are not in sync.

But why do we enjoy music? Let’s me break it down for you, scientifically that is.

According to a research study by Nature Neuroscience, a monthly journal that focuses on original research papers relating specifically to neuroscience; music releases the chemical dopamine that has a key role in setting good moods.

This study was conducted by scanning the brains of the volunteers over three sessions using two different types of scans. The PET scan that was used for two sessions and the fMRI scan that was used once.

Both scans measure the blood flow in the brain which is an indirect measure of the brain activity. The volunteers got to listen to music that they enjoyed and the music they were neutral about.

The level of dopamine was found to be 9% higher when volunteers listened to music they enjoyed.

My take from the study is, you enjoy music due to your brain’s capability of releasing dopamine. This means if you listen to music that you really like you are most likely to have more feel-good effect as compared to music that is not that appealing to you.

So, the next time you see or meet an individual who does not enjoy music don’t be quick to judge them: they might be suffering from specific musical anhedonia or your taste in music is not that pleasing after all. Let’s admit it we all think our music selection is the best. The number of times I have tried influencing some of my friends to listen to my type of music is countless. Some enjoy it of course but some are not loyal. You know yourselves…We all have that one friend whose taste in music is quite questionable. Tell me I am not the only one.

After intensively studying the research it dawned upon me why some of my friends don’t enjoy my kind of music, Hello Ashely, it does not mean that my taste is questionable. It simply means that their brain responds differently to the same music as mine and that it is okay.

I hope you also have a better understanding of how music engages the reward system (ENCODE LINK) now that I have educated you. Sending the exams, your way haha…

Before I officially end this class there is actually one more reason why some may not enjoy music. I am speaking of a musical disorder called Amusia or commonly referred to as Tone deafness. It appears mainly as a defect in processing pitch, recognizing musical tones or reproducing them.

The disorder can be present at birth or acquired as a result of brain damage. Unfortunately, there is no forms of treatment proven to effectively treat amusia.

Now that you have come to the end of the article, I can proudly say that you have been a good student and need to be rewarded. And your reward is… If you are a music lover and truly enjoy music , visit our website and watch The Newsicroom,  a music show that lets you enjoy live acoustic performances by different African artiste for FREE. And don’t be selfish share with your friend and let them enjoy the GOOD MUSIC.



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