Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

AUDITORY SYSTEM

Musical pleasure lies in surprise

The basis of musical pleasure in the brain is not clear. Here, participants’ ratings of chord pleasantness were found to be predicted by an interaction between uncertainty (lack of prior anticipation) and surprise (deviation from expectation), as quantified using a machine-learning model trained with 80,000 chord progressions. Chords were rated as more pleasant if uncertainty was low and surprise was high, or vice versa. Functional MRI revealed that this interaction modulated responses in the auditory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus.

References

Original article

  1. Cheung, V. K. M. et al. Uncertainty and surprise jointly predict musical pleasure and amygdala, hippocampus, and auditory cortex activity. Curr. Biol. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.067 (2019)

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Natasha Bray.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bray, N. Musical pleasure lies in surprise. Nat Rev Neurosci 21, 3 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41583-019-0245-y

Download citation

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing