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<p>Enjoying music consistently engages key structures of the neural auditory and reward systems like the auditory cortex (AC), nucleus accumbens (NAc), and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Listeners’ expectations seem to be central to this phenomenon, as we and others have shown that both uncertainty about the musical future and surprise about the musical past modulate NAc activity and liking ratings. In the present study, we extend this research to an integrated network perspective. During fMRI, 24 participants listened to and rated their enjoyment of 50 naturalistic, real-world musical stimuli, which we characterized with a well-validated model of musical uncertainty and surprise. As in previous studies, participants preferred music that balanced high uncertainty with low surprise and vice versa, suggesting that testing and improving predictions about music may be intrinsically rewarding. Liking modulated the functional connectivity from the NAc to the AC, vmPFC, amygdala, and hippocampus, and back from the AC to the NAc. Independent components analysis identified shared variance between these regions, the thalamus, precuneus, and superior parietal lobule associated with music liking, uncertainty, and surprise. Together, these results elucidate the psychological and neural processes underlying the pleasure of musical expectancies, and implicate a network of regions for future research.</p>
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