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Brain activation to favorite music in healthy controls and depressed patients

Osuch, Elizabeth A.a b; Bluhm, Robyn L.a e; Williamson, Peter C.a b; Théberge, Jeana b d; Densmore, Mariaa; Neufeld, Richard W.J.a c

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e32832f4da3

Reward-processing neurocircuitry has been delineated using verbal or visual processing and/or decision-making tasks. We examined more basic processes of listening to enjoyable music in healthy and depressed patients. The paradigm was passive, individualized, and brief. Sixteen depressed and 15 control individuals provided favorite music and identified neutral music from selections provided. In the fMRI scanner, individuals heard their neutral and their favorite music for 3 min each. Favorite versus neutral music-listening contrasts showed greater activation in controls than depressed patients in medial orbital frontal cortex and nucleus accumbens/ventral striatum. Left medial prefrontal cortex activity was positively correlated with pleasure scores, whereas middle temporal cortex and globus pallidus were negatively correlated with pleasure. This paradigm activated neurocircuitry of reward processing and showed clinically meaningful alterations in depression.

Departments of aPsychiatry

bMedical Biophysics

cPsychology, University of Western Ontario

dLawson Health Research Institute, Imaging Division, London, Ontario, Canada

eDepartment of Philosophy, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Correspondence to Elizabeth A. Osuch, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario, 860 Richmond Street, London, ON N6A 3H8, Canada

Tel: +519 646 6000 x65188; fax: +519 646 6211;


This study was carried out at the University of Western Ontario and London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario, Canada

Received 3 June 2009 accepted 8 June 2009

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.