More musical neuroscience

Anders Sandberg (
16 Nov 1998 18:35:32 +0100

Apropos the neuroscience of the music, I just found this at biomednews

Feel the Music
by Julie Clayton


Anne Blood and colleagues at McGill University in Montreal, have previously found which areas of the brain are involved in pitch perception, imagery or memory for melodies. To test whether emotional reactions to music could also be pinpointed to different brain regions they performed PET scans in 10 volunteers as they listened to music
(all having been brought up under the same Western influence to
eliminate bias). To evoke pleasure or displeasure, the music had been composed especially as six different versions of the same original score that varied in their level of consonance. At one extreme, the music was highly consonant, with all the notes sounding pleasant together. At the other extreme, combinations of notes used sounded progressively more unpleasant.

They found that as the music increased in unpleasantness, the parahippocampal gyrus became active on the right side of the brain,an area which is known to contain emotion-related neurons. As music became more pleasant to listen to, the frontal lobe regions, orbitofrontal cortex, frontal pole, and subcallosalcingulate, became activated on both sides of the brain. These areas were different from those involved in music perception, but are also known to be involved in emotion. Next, Blood will be looking at people listening to their most loved, and most hated piece of music, in order to maximise the strength of emotional responses, including during the "shivers down the spine" phenomenon. It is unlikely, however, that these imagine studies could yet demonstrate the music preferences of different people.

[Nice result, although I'm having some personal theories about the role of parahippocampal gyrus in dissonant music; the other areas seem to be properly emotional. ]

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y