Brain activity can tell what music we like

Brain activity can be used to predict whether people would buy a music product they hear for the first time, according to a new study published Thursday in the U.S. journal Science. Researchers from the McGill University in Canada found that a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens may be responsible for creating the sense of pleasure or reward that humans experience when listening to music heard for the very first time.

"Activity in the nucleus accumbens is an indicator that expectations were met or surpassed," said lead investigator Valorie Salimpoor, "in our study we found that the more activity we see in this brain area while people are listening to music, the more money they are willing to spend."

Salimpoor and colleagues created an environment where participants could spend their own money on music they heard for the first time through a mock online music purchasing system similar to iTunes. The researchers scanned participants' brains as they browsed the music and heard particular patterns of sounds for the first time.

They found that when people are listening to music that they've never heard before, neural activity in the nucleus accumbens can indicate whether or not someone will like a piece of music enough to buy it. The nucleus accumbens doesn't decide this on its own, but integrates responses from the sensory, emotional, and executive parts of the brain, the researchers said.

The stronger or weaker these connections are helps to determine whether music is liked or not. In other words, how various parts of the brain react to music depends on the kinds of music we are exposed to throughout our lives, and thus is a highly individual response, they said.

Philippines News agency