Publications by authors named "Stefan Koelsch"

121 Publications

Trait Empathy Shapes Neural Responses Toward Sad Music.

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 2021 Jan 20. Epub 2021 Jan 20.

Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Individuals with a predisposition to empathize engage with sad music in a compelling way, experiencing overall more pleasurable emotions. However, the neural mechanisms underlying these music-related experiences in empathic individuals are unknown. The present study tested whether dispositional empathy modulates neural responses to sad compared with happy music. Twenty-four participants underwent fMRI while listening to 4-min blocks of music evoking sadness or happiness. Using voxel-wise regression, we found a positive correlation between trait empathy (with scores assessed by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index) and eigenvector centrality values in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), including the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC). We then performed a functional connectivity (FC) analysis to detect network nodes showing stronger FC with the vmPFC/mOFC during the presentation of sad versus happy music. By doing so, we identified a "music-empathy" network (vmPFC/mOFC, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, primary visual cortex, bilateral claustrum and putamen, and cerebellum) that is spontaneously recruited while listening to sad music and includes brain regions that support the coding of compassion, mentalizing, and visual mental imagery. Importantly, our findings extend the current understanding of empathic behaviors to the musical domain and pinpoint sad music as an effective stimulus to be employed in social neuroscience research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13415-020-00861-xDOI Listing
January 2021

Cortical thickness and resting-state cardiac function across the lifespan: A cross-sectional pooled mega-analysis.

Psychophysiology 2020 Oct 10. Epub 2020 Oct 10.

Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT), Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

Understanding the association between autonomic nervous system [ANS] function and brain morphology across the lifespan provides important insights into neurovisceral mechanisms underlying health and disease. Resting-state ANS activity, indexed by measures of heart rate [HR] and its variability [HRV] has been associated with brain morphology, particularly cortical thickness [CT]. While findings have been mixed regarding the anatomical distribution and direction of the associations, these inconsistencies may be due to sex and age differences in HR/HRV and CT. Previous studies have been limited by small sample sizes, which impede the assessment of sex differences and aging effects on the association between ANS function and CT. To overcome these limitations, 20 groups worldwide contributed data collected under similar protocols of CT assessment and HR/HRV recording to be pooled in a mega-analysis (N = 1,218 (50.5% female), mean age 36.7 years (range: 12-87)). Findings suggest a decline in HRV as well as CT with increasing age. CT, particularly in the orbitofrontal cortex, explained additional variance in HRV, beyond the effects of aging. This pattern of results may suggest that the decline in HRV with increasing age is related to a decline in orbitofrontal CT. These effects were independent of sex and specific to HRV; with no significant association between CT and HR. Greater CT across the adult lifespan may be vital for the maintenance of healthy cardiac regulation via the ANS-or greater cardiac vagal activity as indirectly reflected in HRV may slow brain atrophy. Findings reveal an important association between CT and cardiac parasympathetic activity with implications for healthy aging and longevity that should be studied further in longitudinal research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13688DOI Listing
October 2020

A coordinate-based meta-analysis of music-evoked emotions.

Authors:
Stefan Koelsch

Neuroimage 2020 12 6;223:117350. Epub 2020 Sep 6.

Institute for Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Postboks 7807, 5020 Bergen, Norway. Electronic address:

Since the publication of the first neuroscience study investigating emotion with music about two decades ago, the number of functional neuroimaging studies published on this topic has increased each year. This research interest is in part due to the ubiquity of music across cultures, and to music's power to evoke a diverse range of intensely felt emotions. To support a better understanding of the brain correlates of music-evoked emotions this article reports a coordinate-based meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies (n = 47 studies with n = 944 subjects). The studies employed a range of diverse experimental approaches (e.g., using music to evoke joy, sadness, fear, tension, frissons, surprise, unpleasantness, or feelings of beauty). The results of an activation likelihood estimation (ALE) indicate large clusters in a range of structures, including amygdala, anterior hippocampus, auditory cortex, and numerous structures of the reward network (ventral and dorsal striatum, anterior cingulate cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, secondary somatosensory cortex). The results underline the rewarding nature of music, the role of the auditory cortex as an emotional hub, and the role of the hippocampus in attachment-related emotions and social bonding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117350DOI Listing
December 2020

Aesthetic emotions are a key factor in aesthetic evaluation: Reply to Skov and Nadal (2020).

Psychol Rev 2020 07;127(4):650-654

Department of Biological and Medical Psychology.

Our theoretical model (Menninghaus et al., 2019) defines aesthetic emotions by reference to their role in aesthetic evaluation, and specifically as being predictive of aesthetic liking/disliking. Skov and Nadal (2020) dismiss the construct of "aesthetic emotions" as a "dated supposition" adopted from a "speculative" tradition and assert that there are no such emotions. Accordingly, they question all pieces of empirical evidence we referred to as supporting our model. In our response, we rebut these objections point by point and defend as well as expand the empirical evidence in support of our model. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rev0000213DOI Listing
July 2020

The Effect of Emotional Valence on Ventricular Repolarization Dynamics Is Mediated by Heart Rate Variability: A Study of QT Variability and Music-Induced Emotions.

Front Physiol 2019 29;10:1465. Epub 2019 Nov 29.

Aragon Institute for Engineering Research, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain.

Background: Emotions can affect cardiac activity, but their impact on ventricular repolarization variability, an important parameter providing information about cardiac risk and autonomic nervous system activity, is unknown. The beat-to-beat variability of the QT interval (QTV) from the body surface ECG is a non-invasive marker of repolarization variability, which can be decomposed into QTV related to RR variability (QTVrRRV) and QTV unrelated to RRV (QTVuRRV), with the latter thought to be a marker of intrinsic repolarization variability.

Aim: To determine the effect of emotional valence (pleasant and unpleasant) on repolarization variability in healthy volunteers by means of QTV analysis.

Methods: 75 individuals (24.5 ± 3.2 years, 36 females) without a history of cardiovascular disease listened to music-excerpts that were either felt as pleasant ( = 6) or unpleasant ( = 6). Excerpts lasted about 90 s and were presented in a random order along with silent intervals ( = 6). QTV and RRV were derived from the ECG and the time-frequency spectrum of RRV, QTV, QTVuRRV and QTVrRRV as well as time-frequency coherence between QTV and RRV were estimated. Analysis was performed in low-frequency (LF), high frequency (HF) and total spectral bands.

Results: The heart rate-corrected QTV showed a small but significant increase from silence (median 347/interquartile range 31 ms) to listening to music felt as unpleasant (351/30 ms) and pleasant (355/32 ms). The dynamic response of QTV to emotional valence showed a transient phase lasting about 20 s after the onset of each musical excerpt. QTV and RRV were highly correlated in both HF and LF (mean coherence ranging 0.76-0.85). QTV and QTVrRRV decreased during listening to music felt as pleasant and unpleasant with respect to silence and further decreased during listening to music felt as pleasant. QTVuRRV was small and not affected by emotional valence.

Conclusion: Emotional valence, as evoked by music, has a small but significant effect on QTV and QTVrRRV, but not on QTVuRRV. This suggests that the interaction between emotional valence and ventricular repolarization variability is mediated by cycle length dynamics and not due to intrinsic repolarization variability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.01465DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6895139PMC
November 2019

Uncertainty and Surprise Jointly Predict Musical Pleasure and Amygdala, Hippocampus, and Auditory Cortex Activity.

Curr Biol 2019 12 7;29(23):4084-4092.e4. Epub 2019 Nov 7.

Department of Neuropsychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstraße, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Jonas Lies vei, 5009 Bergen, Norway. Electronic address:

Listening to music often evokes intense emotions [1, 2]. Recent research suggests that musical pleasure comes from positive reward prediction errors, which arise when what is heard proves to be better than expected [3]. Central to this view is the engagement of the nucleus accumbens-a brain region that processes reward expectations-to pleasurable music and surprising musical events [4-8]. However, expectancy violations along multiple musical dimensions (e.g., harmony and melody) have failed to implicate the nucleus accumbens [9-11], and it is unknown how music reward value is assigned [12]. Whether changes in musical expectancy elicit pleasure has thus remained elusive [11]. Here, we demonstrate that pleasure varies nonlinearly as a function of the listener's uncertainty when anticipating a musical event, and the surprise it evokes when it deviates from expectations. Taking Western tonal harmony as a model of musical syntax, we used a machine-learning model [13] to mathematically quantify the uncertainty and surprise of 80,000 chords in US Billboard pop songs. Behaviorally, we found that chords elicited high pleasure ratings when they deviated substantially from what the listener had expected (low uncertainty, high surprise) or, conversely, when they conformed to expectations in an uninformative context (high uncertainty, low surprise). Neurally, we found using fMRI that activity in the amygdala, hippocampus, and auditory cortex reflected this interaction, while the nucleus accumbens only reflected uncertainty. These findings challenge current neurocognitive models of music-evoked pleasure and highlight the synergistic interplay between prospective and retrospective states of expectation in the musical experience. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.067DOI Listing
December 2019

Author Correction: When the statistical MMN meets the physical MMN.

Sci Rep 2019 Nov 5;9(1):16394. Epub 2019 Nov 5.

University of Bergen, Department for Biological and Medical Psychology, Postboks 7807, 5020, Bergen, Norway.

An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-52009-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6828754PMC
November 2019

Heroic music stimulates empowering thoughts during mind-wandering.

Sci Rep 2019 07 16;9(1):10317. Epub 2019 Jul 16.

University of Bergen, Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, Postboks 7807, 5020, Bergen, Norway.

It is generally well-known, and scientifically well established, that music affects emotions and moods. However, only little is known about the influence of music on thoughts. This scarcity is particularly surprising given the importance of the valence of thoughts for psychological health and well-being. We presented excerpts of heroic- and sad-sounding music to n = 62 individuals, and collected thought probes after each excerpt, assessing the valence and the nature of thoughts stimulated by the music. Our results show that mind-wandering emerged during listening to either type of music (heroic, sad), and that the type of music strongly influenced the thought contents during mind-wandering. Heroic-sounding music evoked more positive, exciting, constructive, and motivating thoughts, while sad-sounding music evoked more calm or demotivating thoughts. The results thus indicate that music has a strong effect on the valence of thought contents during mind-wandering, with heroic music evoking more empowering and motivating thoughts, and sad music more relaxing or depressive thoughts. These findings have important implications for the use of music in everyday life to promote health and well-being in both clinical populations and healthy individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-46266-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6635482PMC
July 2019

When the statistical MMN meets the physical MMN.

Sci Rep 2019 04 3;9(1):5563. Epub 2019 Apr 3.

University of Bergen, Department for Biological and Medical Psychology, Postboks 7807, 5020, Bergen, Norway.

How do listeners respond to prediction errors within patterned sequence of sounds? To answer this question we carried out a statistical learning study using electroencephalography (EEG). In a continuous auditory stream of sound triplets the deviations were either (a) statistical, in terms of transitional probability, (b) physical, due to a change in sound location (left or right speaker) or (c) a double deviants, i.e. a combination of the two. Statistical and physical deviants elicited a statistical mismatch negativity and a physical MMN respectively. Most importantly, we found that effects of statistical and physical deviants interacted (the statistical MMN was smaller when co-occurring with a physical deviant). Results show, for the first time, that processing of prediction errors due to statistical learning is affected by prediction errors due to physical deviance. Our findings thus show that the statistical MMN interacts with the physical MMN, implying that prediction error processing due to physical sound attributes suppresses processing of learned statistical properties of sounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-42066-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6447621PMC
April 2019

What are aesthetic emotions?

Psychol Rev 2019 03;126(2):171-195

Department of Biological and Medical Psychology.

This is the first comprehensive theoretical article on aesthetic emotions. Following Kant's definition, we propose that it is the first and foremost characteristic of aesthetic emotions to make a direct contribution to aesthetic evaluation/appreciation. Each aesthetic emotion is tuned to a special type of perceived aesthetic appeal and is predictive of the subjectively felt pleasure or displeasure and the liking or disliking associated with this type of appeal. Contrary to the negativity bias of classical emotion catalogues, emotion terms used for aesthetic evaluation purposes include far more positive than negative emotions. At the same time, many overall positive aesthetic emotions encompass negative or mixed emotional ingredients. Appraisals of intrinsic pleasantness, familiarity, and novelty are preeminently important for aesthetic emotions. Appraisals of goal relevance/conduciveness and coping potential are largely irrelevant from a pragmatic perspective, but in some cases highly relevant for cognitive and affective coping. Aesthetic emotions are typically sought and savored for their own sake, with subjectively felt intensity and/or emotional arousal being rewards in their own right. The expression component of aesthetic emotions includes laughter, tears, and facial and bodily movements, along with applause or booing and words of praise or blame. Aesthetic emotions entail motivational approach and avoidance tendencies, specifically, tendencies toward prolonged, repeated, or interrupted exposure and wanting to possess aesthetically pleasing objects. They are experienced across a broad range of experiential domains and not coextensive with art-elicited emotions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rev0000135DOI Listing
March 2019

Predictive Processes and the Peculiar Case of Music.

Trends Cogn Sci 2019 01 21;23(1):63-77. Epub 2018 Nov 21.

The Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, University College London, London, UK.

We suggest that music perception is an active act of listening, providing an irresistible epistemic offering. When listening to music we constantly generate plausible hypotheses about what could happen next, while actively attending to music resolves the ensuing uncertainty. Within the predictive coding framework, we present a novel formulation of precision filtering and attentional selection, which explains why some lower-level auditory, and even higher-level music-syntactic processes elicited by irregular events are relatively exempt from top-down predictive processes. We review findings providing unique evidence for the attentional selection of salient auditory features. This formulation suggests that 'listening' is a more active process than traditionally conceived in models of perception.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2018.10.006DOI Listing
January 2019

Investigating the Neural Encoding of Emotion with Music.

Authors:
Stefan Koelsch

Neuron 2018 06;98(6):1075-1079

Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Norway. Electronic address:

Does our understanding of the human brain remain incomplete without a proper understanding of how the brain processes music? Here, the author makes a passionate plea for the use of music in the investigation of human emotion and its brain correlates, arguing that music can change activity in all brain structures associated with emotions, which has important implications on how we understand human emotions and their disorders and how we can make better use of beneficial effects of music in therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2018.04.029DOI Listing
June 2018

Hippocampal-Temporopolar Connectivity Contributes to Episodic Simulation During Social Cognition.

Sci Rep 2018 06 20;8(1):9409. Epub 2018 Jun 20.

Department of Biological an Medial Psychology, University of Bergen, 5009, Bergen, Norway.

People are better able to empathize with others when they are given information concerning the context driving that person's experiences. This suggests that people draw on prior memories when empathizing, but the mechanisms underlying this connection remain largely unexplored. The present study investigates how variations in episodic information shape the emotional response towards a movie character. Episodic information is either absent or provided by a written context preceding empathic film clips. It was shown that sad context information increases empathic concern for a movie character. This was tracked by neural activity in the temporal pole (TP) and anterior hippocampus (aHP). Dynamic causal modeling with Bayesian Model Selection has shown that context changes the effective connectivity from left aHP to the right TP. The same crossed-hemispheric coupling was found during rest, when people are left to their own thoughts. We conclude that (i) that the integration of episodic memory also supports the specific case of integrating context into empathic judgments, (ii) the right TP supports emotion processing by integrating episodic memory into empathic inferences, and (iii) lateral integration is a key process for episodic simulation during rest and during task. We propose that a disruption of the mechanism may underlie empathy deficits in clinical conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-24557-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010422PMC
June 2018

The right inferior frontal gyrus processes nested non-local dependencies in music.

Sci Rep 2018 02 28;8(1):3822. Epub 2018 Feb 28.

Department of Neuropsychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.

Complex auditory sequences known as music have often been described as hierarchically structured. This permits the existence of non-local dependencies, which relate elements of a sequence beyond their temporal sequential order. Previous studies in music have reported differential activity in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) when comparing regular and irregular chord-transitions based on theories in Western tonal harmony. However, it is unclear if the observed activity reflects the interpretation of hierarchical structure as the effects are confounded by local irregularity. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we found that violations to non-local dependencies in nested sequences of three-tone musical motifs in musicians elicited increased activity in the right IFG. This is in contrast to similar studies in language which typically report the left IFG in processing grammatical syntax. Effects of increasing auditory working demands are moreover reflected by distributed activity in frontal and parietal regions. Our study therefore demonstrates the role of the right IFG in processing non-local dependencies in music, and suggests that hierarchical processing in different cognitive domains relies on similar mechanisms that are subserved by domain-selective neuronal subpopulations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-22144-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5830458PMC
February 2018

The auditory cortex hosts network nodes influential for emotion processing: An fMRI study on music-evoked fear and joy.

PLoS One 2018 31;13(1):e0190057. Epub 2018 Jan 31.

Department of Biomedical Magnetic Resonance, University Clinic Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

Sound is a potent elicitor of emotions. Auditory core, belt and parabelt regions have anatomical connections to a large array of limbic and paralimbic structures which are involved in the generation of affective activity. However, little is known about the functional role of auditory cortical regions in emotion processing. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging and music stimuli that evoke joy or fear, our study reveals that anterior and posterior regions of auditory association cortex have emotion-characteristic functional connectivity with limbic/paralimbic (insula, cingulate cortex, and striatum), somatosensory, visual, motor-related, and attentional structures. We found that these regions have remarkably high emotion-characteristic eigenvector centrality, revealing that they have influential positions within emotion-processing brain networks with "small-world" properties. By contrast, primary auditory fields showed surprisingly strong emotion-characteristic functional connectivity with intra-auditory regions. Our findings demonstrate that the auditory cortex hosts regions that are influential within networks underlying the affective processing of auditory information. We anticipate our results to incite research specifying the role of the auditory cortex-and sensory systems in general-in emotion processing, beyond the traditional view that sensory cortices have merely perceptual functions.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190057PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5791961PMC
February 2018

Negative emotions in art reception: Refining theoretical assumptions and adding variables to the Distancing-Embracing model.

Behav Brain Sci 2017 01;40:e380

University of Bergen,5020

While covering all commentaries, our response specifically focuses on the following issues: How can the hypothesis of emotional distancing (qua art framing) be compatible with stipulating high levels of felt negative emotions in art reception? Which concept of altogether pleasurable mixed emotions does our model involve? Can mechanisms of predictive coding, social sharing, and immersion enhance the power of our model?
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X17001947DOI Listing
January 2017

Effects of music therapy and music-based interventions in the treatment of substance use disorders: A systematic review.

PLoS One 2017 15;12(11):e0187363. Epub 2017 Nov 15.

Department for Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Music therapy (MT) and music-based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly used for the treatment of substance use disorders (SUD). Previous reviews on the efficacy of MT emphasized the dearth of research evidence for this topic, although various positive effects were identified. Therefore, we conducted a systematic search on published articles examining effects of music, MT and MBIs and found 34 quantitative and six qualitative studies. There was a clear increase in the number of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) during the past few years. We had planned for a meta-analysis, but due to the diversity of the quantitative studies, effect sizes were not computed. Beneficial effects of MT/ MBI on emotional and motivational outcomes, participation, locus of control, and perceived helpfulness were reported, but results were inconsistent across studies. Furthermore, many RCTs focused on effects of single sessions. No published longitudinal trials could be found. The analysis of the qualitative studies revealed four themes: emotional expression, group interaction, development of skills, and improvement of quality of life. Considering these issues for quantitative research, there is a need to examine social and health variables in future studies. In conclusion, due to the heterogeneity of the studies, the efficacy of MT/ MBI in SUD treatment still remains unclear.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0187363PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5687713PMC
December 2017

Effects of Sad and Happy Music on Mind-Wandering and the Default Mode Network.

Sci Rep 2017 10 31;7(1):14396. Epub 2017 Oct 31.

Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Music is a ubiquitous phenomenon in human cultures, mostly due to its power to evoke and regulate emotions. However, effects of music evoking different emotional experiences such as sadness and happiness on cognition, and in particular on self-generated thought, are unknown. Here we use probe-caught thought sampling and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the influence of sad and happy music on mind-wandering and its underlying neuronal mechanisms. In three experiments we found that sad music, compared with happy music, is associated with stronger mind-wandering (Experiments 1A and 1B) and greater centrality of the nodes of the Default Mode Network (DMN) (Experiment 2). Thus, our results demonstrate that, when listening to sad vs. happy music, people withdraw their attention inwards and engage in spontaneous, self-referential cognitive processes. Importantly, our results also underscore that DMN activity can be modulated as a function of sad and happy music. These findings call for a systematic investigation of the relation between music and thought, having broad implications for the use of music in education and clinical settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-14849-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5663956PMC
October 2017

Language and music phrase boundary processing in Autism Spectrum Disorder: An ERP study.

Sci Rep 2017 10 31;7(1):14465. Epub 2017 Oct 31.

Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is frequently associated with communicative impairment, regardless of intelligence level or mental age. Impairment of prosodic processing in particular is a common feature of ASD. Despite extensive overlap in neural resources involved in prosody and music processing, music perception seems to be spared in this population. The present study is the first to investigate prosodic phrasing in ASD in both language and music, combining event-related brain potential (ERP) and behavioral methods. We tested phrase boundary processing in language and music in neuro-typical adults and high-functioning individuals with ASD. We targeted an ERP response associated with phrase boundary processing in both language and music - i.e., the Closure Positive Shift (CPS). While a language-CPS was observed in the neuro-typical group, for ASD participants a smaller response failed to reach statistical significance. In music, we found a boundary-onset music-CPS for both groups during pauses between musical phrases. Our results support the view of preserved processing of musical cues in ASD individuals, with a corresponding prosodic impairment. This suggests that, despite the existence of a domain-general processing mechanism (the CPS), key differences in the integration of features of language and music may lead to the prosodic impairment in ASD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-14538-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5663964PMC
October 2017

Neural Encoding of Auditory Features during Music Perception and Imagery.

Cereb Cortex 2018 12;28(12):4222-4233

Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.

Despite many behavioral and neuroimaging investigations, it remains unclear how the human cortex represents spectrotemporal sound features during auditory imagery, and how this representation compares to auditory perception. To assess this, we recorded electrocorticographic signals from an epileptic patient with proficient music ability in 2 conditions. First, the participant played 2 piano pieces on an electronic piano with the sound volume of the digital keyboard on. Second, the participant replayed the same piano pieces, but without auditory feedback, and the participant was asked to imagine hearing the music in his mind. In both conditions, the sound output of the keyboard was recorded, thus allowing precise time-locking between the neural activity and the spectrotemporal content of the music imagery. This novel task design provided a unique opportunity to apply receptive field modeling techniques to quantitatively study neural encoding during auditory mental imagery. In both conditions, we built encoding models to predict high gamma neural activity (70-150 Hz) from the spectrogram representation of the recorded sound. We found robust spectrotemporal receptive fields during auditory imagery with substantial, but not complete overlap in frequency tuning and cortical location compared to receptive fields measured during auditory perception.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhx277DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6215461PMC
December 2018

The emotional power of poetry: neural circuitry, psychophysiology and compositional principles.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2017 08;12(8):1229-1240

Department of Language and Literature, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, 60322 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

It is a common experience-and well established experimentally-that music can engage us emotionally in a compelling manner. The mechanisms underlying these experiences are receiving increasing scrutiny. However, the extent to which other domains of aesthetic experience can similarly elicit strong emotions is unknown. Using psychophysiology, neuroimaging and behavioral responses, we show that recited poetry can act as a powerful stimulus for eliciting peak emotional responses, including chills and objectively measurable goosebumps that engage the primary reward circuitry. Importantly, while these responses to poetry are largely analogous to those found for music, their neural underpinnings show important differences, specifically with regard to the crucial role of the nucleus accumbens. We also go beyond replicating previous music-related studies by showing that peak aesthetic pleasure can co-occur with physiological markers of negative affect. Finally, the distribution of chills across the trajectory of poems provides insight into compositional principles of poetry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsx069DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5597896PMC
August 2017

The Distancing-Embracing model of the enjoyment of negative emotions in art reception.

Behav Brain Sci 2017 01 20;40:e347. Epub 2017 Feb 20.

University of Bergen,5020

Why are negative emotions so central in art reception far beyond tragedy? Revisiting classical aesthetics in the light of recent psychological research, we present a novel model to explain this much discussed (apparent) paradox. We argue that negative emotions are an important resource for the arts in general, rather than a special license for exceptional art forms only. The underlying rationale is that negative emotions have been shown to be particularly powerful in securing attention, intense emotional involvement, and high memorability, and hence is precisely what artworks strive for. Two groups of processing mechanisms are identified that conjointly adopt the particular powers of negative emotions for art's purposes. The first group consists of psychological distancing mechanisms that are activated along with the cognitive schemata of art, representation, and fiction. These schemata imply personal safety and control over continuing or discontinuing exposure to artworks, thereby preventing negative emotions from becoming outright incompatible with expectations of enjoyment. This distancing sets the stage for a second group of processing components that allow art recipients to positively embrace the experiencing of negative emotions, thereby rendering art reception more intense, more interesting, more emotionally moving, more profound, and occasionally even more beautiful. These components include compositional interplays of positive and negative emotions, the effects of aesthetic virtues of using the media of (re)presentation (musical sound, words/language, color, shapes) on emotion perception, and meaning-making efforts. Moreover, our Distancing-Embracing model proposes that concomitant mixed emotions often help integrate negative emotions into altogether pleasurable trajectories.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X17000309DOI Listing
January 2017

Neurophysiological Correlates of Musical and Prosodic Phrasing: Shared Processing Mechanisms and Effects of Musical Expertise.

PLoS One 2016 18;11(5):e0155300. Epub 2016 May 18.

Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

The processing of prosodic phrase boundaries in language is immediately reflected by a specific event-related potential component called the Closure Positive Shift (CPS). A component somewhat reminiscent of the CPS in language has also been reported for musical phrases (i.e., the so-called 'music CPS'). However, in previous studies the quantification of the music-CPS as well as its morphology and timing differed substantially from the characteristics of the language-CPS. Therefore, the degree of correspondence between cognitive mechanisms of phrasing in music and in language has remained questionable. Here, we probed the shared nature of mechanisms underlying musical and prosodic phrasing by (1) investigating whether the music-CPS is present at phrase boundary positions where the language-CPS has been originally reported (i.e., at the onset of the pause between phrases), and (2) comparing the CPS in music and in language in non-musicians and professional musicians. For the first time, we report a positive shift at the onset of musical phrase boundaries that strongly resembles the language-CPS and argue that the post-boundary 'music-CPS' of previous studies may be an entirely distinct ERP component. Moreover, the language-CPS in musicians was found to be less prominent than in non-musicians, suggesting more efficient processing of prosodic phrases in language as a result of higher musical expertise.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0155300PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4871576PMC
July 2017

The impact of acute stress on hormones and cytokines, and how their recovery is affected by music-evoked positive mood.

Sci Rep 2016 Mar 29;6:23008. Epub 2016 Mar 29.

Institute of Clinical Immunology, Medical Faculty, University of Leipzig, Johannisallee 30, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.

Stress and recovery from stress significantly affect interactions between the central nervous system, endocrine pathways, and the immune system. However, the influence of acute stress on circulating immune-endocrine mediators in humans is not well known. Using a double-blind, randomized study design, we administered a CO2 stress test to n = 143 participants to identify the effects of acute stress, and recovery from stress, on serum levels of several mediators with immune function (IL-6, TNF-α, leptin, and somatostatin), as well as on noradrenaline, and two hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis hormones (ACTH and cortisol). Moreover, during a 1 h-recovery period, we repeatedly measured these serum parameters, and administered an auditory mood-induction protocol with positive music and a neutral control stimulus. The acute stress elicited increases in noradrenaline, ACTH, cortisol, IL-6, and leptin levels. Noradrenaline and ACTH exhibited the fastest and strongest stress responses, followed by cortisol, IL-6 and leptin. The music intervention was associated with more positive mood, and stronger cortisol responses to the acute stressor in the music group. Our data show that acute (CO2) stress affects endocrine, immune and metabolic functions in humans, and they show that mood plays a causal role in the modulation of responses to acute stress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep23008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4810374PMC
March 2016

Under the hood of statistical learning: A statistical MMN reflects the magnitude of transitional probabilities in auditory sequences.

Sci Rep 2016 Feb 2;6:19741. Epub 2016 Feb 2.

Technische Universität Dresden, Institut für Kunst- und Musikwissenschaft, Dresden, 01219, Germany.

Within the framework of statistical learning, many behavioural studies investigated the processing of unpredicted events. However, surprisingly few neurophysiological studies are available on this topic, and no statistical learning experiment has investigated electroencephalographic (EEG) correlates of processing events with different transition probabilities. We carried out an EEG study with a novel variant of the established statistical learning paradigm. Timbres were presented in isochronous sequences of triplets. The first two sounds of all triplets were equiprobable, while the third sound occurred with either low (10%), intermediate (30%), or high (60%) probability. Thus, the occurrence probability of the third item of each triplet (given the first two items) was varied. Compared to high-probability triplet endings, endings with low and intermediate probability elicited an early anterior negativity that had an onset around 100 ms and was maximal at around 180 ms. This effect was larger for events with low than for events with intermediate probability. Our results reveal that, when predictions are based on statistical learning, events that do not match a prediction evoke an early anterior negativity, with the amplitude of this mismatch response being inversely related to the probability of such events. Thus, we report a statistical mismatch negativity (sMMN) that reflects statistical learning of transitional probability distributions that go beyond auditory sensory memory capabilities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep19741DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4735647PMC
February 2016

Effects of veridical expectations on syntax processing in music: Event-related potential evidence.

Sci Rep 2016 Jan 19;6:19064. Epub 2016 Jan 19.

Department of Educational Sciences &Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 14195, Germany.

Numerous past studies have investigated neurophysiological correlates of music-syntactic processing. However, only little is known about how prior knowledge about an upcoming syntactically irregular event modulates brain correlates of music-syntactic processing. Two versions of a short chord sequence were presented repeatedly to non-musicians (n = 20) and musicians (n = 20). One sequence version ended on a syntactically regular chord, and the other one ended on a syntactically irregular chord. Participants were either informed (cued condition), or not informed (non-cued condition) about whether the sequence would end on the regular or the irregular chord. Results indicate that in the cued condition (compared to the non-cued condition) the peak latency of the early right anterior negativity (ERAN), elicited by irregular chords, was earlier in both non-musicians and musicians. However, the expectations due to the knowledge about the upcoming event (veridical expectations) did not influence the amplitude of the ERAN. These results suggest that veridical expectations modulate only the speed, but not the principle mechanisms, of music-syntactic processing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep19064DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4726113PMC
January 2016

The Temporal Pole Top-Down Modulates the Ventral Visual Stream During Social Cognition.

Cereb Cortex 2017 01;27(1):777-792

Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, 5009 Bergen, Norway.

The temporal pole (TP) has been associated with diverse functions of social cognition and emotion processing. Although the underlying mechanism remains elusive, one possibility is that TP acts as domain-general hub integrating socioemotional information. To test this, 26 participants were presented with 60 empathy-evoking film clips during fMRI scanning. The film clips were preceded by a linguistic sad or neutral context and half of the clips were accompanied by sad music. In line with its hypothesized role, TP was involved in the processing of sad context and furthermore tracked participants' empathic concern. To examine the neuromodulatory impact of TP, we applied nonlinear dynamic causal modeling to a multisensory integration network from previous work consisting of superior temporal gyrus (STG), fusiform gyrus (FG), and amygdala, which was extended by an additional node in the TP. Bayesian model comparison revealed a gating of STG and TP on fusiform-amygdalar coupling and an increase of TP to FG connectivity during the integration of contextual information. Moreover, these backward projections were strengthened by emotional music. The findings indicate that during social cognition, TP integrates information from different modalities and top-down modulates lower-level perceptual areas in the ventral visual stream as a function of integration demands.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhv226DOI Listing
January 2017

Music and the heart.

Eur Heart J 2015 Nov 9;36(44):3043-9. Epub 2015 Sep 9.

Division Neuropsychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Zurich, Binzmuehlestrasse 14, PO Box 25, Zürich CH-8050, Switzerland International Normal Aging and Plasticity Imaging Center (INAPIC), University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland University Research Priority Program (URPP), Dynamic of Healthy Aging, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland

Music can powerfully evoke and modulate emotions and moods, along with changes in heart activity, blood pressure (BP), and breathing. Although there is great heterogeneity in methods and quality among previous studies on effects of music on the heart, the following findings emerge from the literature: Heart rate (HR) and respiratory rate (RR) are higher in response to exciting music compared with tranquilizing music. During musical frissons (involving shivers and piloerection), both HR and RR increase. Moreover, HR and RR tend to increase in response to music compared with silence, and HR appears to decrease in response to unpleasant music compared with pleasant music. We found no studies that would provide evidence for entrainment of HR to musical beats. Corresponding to the increase in HR, listening to exciting music (compared with tranquilizing music) is associated with a reduction of heart rate variability (HRV), including reductions of both low-frequency and high-frequency power of the HRV. Recent findings also suggest effects of music-evoked emotions on regional activity of the heart, as reflected in electrocardiogram amplitude patterns. In patients with heart disease (similar to other patient groups), music can reduce pain and anxiety, associated with lower HR and lower BP. In general, effects of music on the heart are small, and there is great inhomogeneity among studies with regard to methods, findings, and quality. Therefore, there is urgent need for systematic high-quality research on the effects of music on the heart, and on the beneficial effects of music in clinical settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehv430DOI Listing
November 2015

Effects of Aesthetic Chills on a Cardiac Signature of Emotionality.

PLoS One 2015 17;10(6):e0130117. Epub 2015 Jun 17.

Cluster "Languages of Emotion", Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Background: Previous studies have shown that a cardiac signature of emotionality (referred to as EK, which can be computed from the standard 12 lead electrocardiogram, ECG), predicts inter-individual differences in the tendency to experience and express positive emotion. Here, we investigated whether EK values can be transiently modulated during stimulation with participant-selected music pieces and film scenes that elicit strongly positive emotion.

Methodology/principal Findings: The phenomenon of aesthetic chills, as indicated by measurable piloerection on the forearm, was used to accurately locate moments of peak emotional responses during stimulation. From 58 healthy participants, continuous EK values, heart rate, and respiratory frequency were recorded during stimulation with film scenes and music pieces, and were related to the aesthetic chills. EK values, as well as heart rate, increased significantly during moments of peak positive emotion accompanied by piloerection.

Conclusions/significance: These results are the first to provide evidence for an influence of momentary psychological state on a cardiac signature of emotional personality (as reflected in EK values). The possibility to modulate ECG amplitude signatures via stimulation with emotionally significant music pieces and film scenes opens up new perspectives for the use of emotional peak experiences in the therapy of disorders characterized by flattened emotionality, such as depression or schizoid personality disorder.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0130117PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4470584PMC
April 2016