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Does the Unexpected Make for Good Music?

From McGill University:

New research shows the musically unexpected activates the reward center of our brains, and makes us learn about the music as we listen.

Subjects had their brain activity measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) while listening to music. When the subjects incorrectly predicted where the music was heading, scientists measured increased activity in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region that in previous studies has been shown to activate when experiencing musical pleasure.

The study is the first evidence that musically elicited reward prediction errors can cause musical pleasure.

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