The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital released a thoughtful Why we buy music today.
After some reflection, the results are not too surprising. In the experiment, the researchers quantified the musical tastes of the subjects using Pandora or other music suggestion algorithms. Then based upon the individual's music preferences, the researchers played previously unpublished music selections during a brain MRI scan.
What they discovered is that one activity center in the brain determines whether the individual will like that selection or purchase it. The greater the activity in the nucleus accumbens, the more the individual likes the selection. The surprising thing though, is the activity by the auditory cortex. This portion of the brain is trained and tuned by music we have heard in the past, which partially explains the differences in musical tastes. The more the subject liked the selection, the greater the communication between the nucleus accumbens and the auditory cortex.
The memory and training of the auditory cortex suggests we like music because it 'resonates' with us, or it meets our expectations of music. The study also confirms the powerful stimulus of music upon the human brain.