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Music doesn’t move some people

Study offers glimpse into those who find no enjoyment in tunes

Music doesn’t speak to everyone. Some otherwise healthy people just don’t derive pleasure from listening to music, scientists report in the March 17 Current Biology.

Because music plays such an omnipresent role in societies around the world, it’s reasonable to guess that music’s delights are universal. Not so, found Ernest Mas-Herrero of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute near Barcelona and colleagues. After testing about 1,000 people, the researchers found 10 who say they don’t enjoy music. These people’s bodies backed up their claims: Music, both chosen by the participants and rated by others as pleasurable, didn’t have a big effect on heart rates or skin conductance, a measure of sweat. For other people who said they liked music, song excerpts moved these two bodily measures.

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