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The Music of Your Emotions: Neural Substrates Involved in Detection of Emotional Correspondence between Auditory and Visual Music Actions
Published: Friday, April 29, 2011
Author: Karin Petrini et al.

by Karin Petrini, Frances Crabbe, Carol Sheridan, Frank E. Pollick

In humans, emotions from music serve important communicative roles. Despite a growing interest in the neural basis of music perception, action and emotion, the majority of previous studies in this area have focused on the auditory aspects of music performances. Here we investigate how the brain processes the emotions elicited by audiovisual music performances. We used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, and in Experiment 1 we defined the areas responding to audiovisual (musician's movements with music), visual (musician's movements only), and auditory emotional (music only) displays. Subsequently a region of interest analysis was performed to examine if any of the areas detected in Experiment 1 showed greater activation for emotionally mismatching performances (combining the musician's movements with mismatching emotional sound) than for emotionally matching music performances (combining the musician's movements with matching emotional sound) as presented in Experiment 2 to the same participants. The insula and the left thalamus were found to respond consistently to visual, auditory and audiovisual emotional information and to have increased activation for emotionally mismatching displays in comparison with emotionally matching displays. In contrast, the right thalamus was found to respond to audiovisual emotional displays and to have similar activation for emotionally matching and mismatching displays. These results suggest that the insula and left thalamus have an active role in detecting emotional correspondence between auditory and visual information during music performances, whereas the right thalamus has a different role.