Scientific article
Open access

Mapping aesthetic musical emotions in the brain

Published inCerebral cortex, vol. 22, no. 12, p. 2769-2783
Publication date2012

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 high-arousing (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.

  • Adult
  • Affect/physiology
  • Arousal/physiology
  • Attention/physiology
  • Auditory Perception/physiology
  • Brain/physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music/psychology
Citation (ISO format)
TROST, Johanna Wiebke et al. Mapping aesthetic musical emotions in the brain. In: Cerebral cortex, 2012, vol. 22, n° 12, p. 2769–2783. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr353
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1047-3211

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