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Mapping aesthetic musical emotions in the brain

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Publication details

JournalCerebral Cortex
DateE-pub ahead of print - 15 Dec 2011
DatePublished (current) - Dec 2012
Issue number12
Volume22
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)2769-2783
Early online date15/12/11
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Music evokes complex emotions beyond pleasant/unpleasant or
happy/sad dichotomies usually investigated in neuroscience. Here,
we used functional neuroimaging with parametric analyses based on
the intensity of felt emotions to explore a wider spectrum of affective
responses reported during music listening. Positive emotions
correlated with activation of left striatum and insula when higharousing
(Wonder, Joy) but right striatum and orbitofrontal cortex
when low-arousing (Nostalgia, Tenderness). Irrespective of their
positive/negative valence, high-arousal emotions (Tension, Power,
and Joy) also correlated with activations in sensory and motor areas,
whereas low-arousal categories (Peacefulness, Nostalgia, and
Sadness) selectively engaged ventromedial prefrontal cortex and
hippocampus. The right parahippocampal cortex activated in all but
positive high-arousal conditions. Results also suggested some blends
between activation patterns associated with different classes of
emotions, particularly for feelings of Wonder or Transcendence.
These data reveal a differentiated recruitment across emotions of
networks involved in reward, memory, self-reflective, and sensorimotor
processes, which may account for the unique richness of
musical emotions.

    Research areas

  • emotion, fMRI, music, striatum, ventro-medial prefrontal cortex

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