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Edward Ivanov
Edward Ivanov

Sloboda Musical Mind.pdf

Your baby or toddler may be especially musically inclined if they move or sing in response to music, if they show a special attention or fascination when music is played, or if they especially enjoy singing and experimenting with their voice as described in this post above.

Sloboda Musical Mind.pdf

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For added rhythmic effect, you can punctuate your chants with rising and falling vocal inflections, varying your pitch and volume to give them a sing-song quality and adding a sense of pulse and movement. These inflections should fall within your normal speaking range, versus singing the chants using musical pitches.

If you find improvising chant rhythms difficult you can sing songs you know but vocalize the song with the nonsense syllables as described above, then borrow those rhythms and turn them into chant by shifting your voice away from the musical tones and into your normal speaking range.

A slower emotional response is musical enjoyment, which refers to an aesthetic emotion originating from the appraisal of the acoustic and formal properties of the music. Enjoyment is strongly modulated by individual factors, such as familiarity with the music, personality, current mood, and taste [8], [9]. The aesthetic emotion of enjoyment leads to conscious judgements of liking, i.e., the positive or negative judgement about a musical piece, and hence, the degree of enjoyment can be measured by liking ratings. In some rare occasions in which musical enjoyment is particularly strong and intense, physiological responses, namely frissons (including chills and goose bumps; for a review, see [10]), also occur. Frissons can be measured with the polygraph. Those body changes, however, cannot be considered as the sole measure of musical enjoyment as they are triggered in only a small percentage of subjects (mainly musicians), typically with familiar music and in correspondence of abrupt harmonic or timbral variations, hence not just when listening to any favourite musical piece [10], [11].

An important individual factor determining the variation of musical enjoyment and liking, as well as the occurrence of frissons in response to music, is familiarity: becoming more familiar with a particular piece of music increases the subject's liking ratings for it [5], [24], [25]. This phenomenon, known in the literature as the mere exposure effect, suggests that familiarity might play an important role in the emotional engagement of listeners with the music. The neural mechanisms governing this mere exposure effect are, however, still unrevealed. Furthermore, several imaging experiments looking for brain activations to familiar/unfamiliar music have been performed, but the use of different techniques, stimuli and tasks have yielded somewhat different results. Using positron emission tomography (PET), Satoh and collaborators [26] reported activations in the anterior portion of bilateral temporal lobes, posterior portion of superior temporal gyri, anterior and posterior portion of medial frontal lobes, bilateral cingulate gyri, left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and middle portion of the left superior temporal gyrus (STG). The described regions were obtained by subtracting a familiarity task (judging whether melodies were familiar or not) and an alteration-detection task (detecting altered notes), in a set of melodies played with a synthesizer. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study [27], the neural basis of familiarity was analysed using classical music excerpts and odours, showing activations for familiar over unfamiliar music in left frontal regions, namely in the superior frontal gyrus (SFG), medial frontal gyrus (MFG) and precentral gyrus (pCG), and also in the left superior temporal sulcus (STS) and parietal regions, such as the posterior part of the left cingulate gyrus, the right angular gyrus (AG) and the left supramarginal gyrus. Additionally, the authors described a vast network of overlapping left hemisphere activations for familiar over unfamiliar music and odours, including the SFG, IFG, AG, precuneus and parahippocampal gyrus, suggesting that there might be a multimodal neural system for the feeling of familiarity, which is independent of the sensory modality. Another recent fMRI study [28] showed that familiar monophonic melodies over acoustically balanced unfamiliar melodies (consisting in the reversed versions of the familiar ones) activated bilateral STS with a bias to the right, and that familiar music over random tones recruited the right supplementary motor area (SMA), the planum temporale and the IFG. Interestingly, in both these contrasts, the authors observed sub-threshold activations in the ventral striatum and precuneus. The ventral striatum activation is of particular interest to our study since it includes the NAc, which receives projections from the dopaminergic neurons of the VTA and is therefore a central structure of the reward/pleasure system (cf. [29]). Although below threshold, this activation is consistent with our hypothesis that familiarity is an important factor for the emotional engagement and/or induction of pleasurable feelings in the listener.

Music fruition is a highly subjective experience, which varies widely across individuals. While listening to music, we can be moved by the melody, or we may find ourselves focusing on a timbre of an instrument or combination of instruments, or else we can be emotionally engaged by abrupt changes in the harmony or rhythm. Hence, in order to mimic the naturalistic situation in which music appreciation occurs, we discarded the manipulation of a single music dimension, and rather used expressive music from the pop/rock music genre, as it is the most ubiquitous in Western world (and also very diffuse in non-Western populations; for a similar approach in neuroimaging research, see [30]). In addition, appreciation of pop/rock music does not require formal musical training, and it is consequently the most available and important instance of aesthetic enjoyment of music. In order to further enhance the experience of musical enjoyment and of familiarity with music, subjects performed a listening test prior to the fMRI measurements, from which a unique set of musical stimuli per participant was chosen.

The naturalistic approach adopted here has been used before us by Janata [30]. In that study, fMRI and pop/rock music that extended to subjects' childhood time to evoke autobiographical memories were used. The analyses of the parametric variation (the areas of activation for the independent effects) of familiarity, autobiographical salience and valence showed that the most widespread activations were observed for the familiarity regressor. These activations included the IFG, medial frontal gyrus (MFG), pre-SMA, medial prefrontal cortex, STG, AG, medial temporal gyrus (MTG), cerebellum, caudate nucleus and ventro-lateral thalamic nucleus. A series of cortical and subcortical activations correlated with the degree of experienced positive affect were also reported, namely in the left superior frontal sulcus (SFS), right STG, left ventral anterior cingulate cortex, left substantia nigra and left ventral lateral thalamic nucleus. That study [30], however, focused on testing if the medial prefrontal cortex has a role in the association of musical features with autobiographical memories and emotions, rather than studying the brain areas recruited by familiarity and liking of music. For instance, the ratings of valence and pleasantness do not allow to tackle the subjective liking of music, since they might be driven by acoustic features and sensory processing. Moreover, since the participants classified each song during the fMRI recordings, the number of stimuli obtained for each condition was different, and had, therefore, different statistical weights in the final model.

Emotional responses to music have previously been shown to recruit limbic, paralimbic and reward structures of the brain. However, it was not clear how factors such as familiarity and musical preferences interact in modulating activity in these brain regions. In our study, we found that most emotion-related brain activity was triggered by familiar (liked or disliked) music rather than liked (familiar or unfamiliar) music, thus supporting our hypothesis about the crucial role of the familiarity factor in music appreciation and induction of emotions in the brain.

Blood and Zatorre [20] have reported a correlation between increased intensity of felt chills when listening to favourite pieces of music and activations or deactivations of such regions, namely the nucleus accumbens in the ventral striatum, midbrain, amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex and ventral medial prefrontal cortex. Although it was not emphasized, the pieces of music used were highly familiar to the participants, since they were given the chance to choose the ones that consistently elicited intense pleasure and chills. In turn, Brown and collaborators [39] used unfamiliar though pleasurable music, and described activations in the ventral anterior cingulate cortex, the hippocampus, anterior insula and also the nucleus accumbens. It is worth noting, though, that the activation they reported in the nucleus accumbens is sub-threshold. In our study, instead, no neural activity in the ventral striatum was obtained in response to liked music, even after using a more liberal statistical threshold without correction. One possible reason for the discrepancy with the results obtained between Browns' [39] and our study is that, although the exact time of the stimulus duration in their study is not specified, it was probably much more than the thirty seconds we used. Moreover, they had only two functional scans, each one with a different song (probably the entire song), allowing the subjects to have more time to get emotionally engaged with the unfamiliar song. It may then be hypothesized that a longer exposure to unfamiliar (and liked) music in our study would have generated stronger responses in the limbic system too. In a series of studies [40], [41], however, it was found that musical excerpts of 1 sec only were enough to allow the recognition of basic emotions of happiness and sadness in the participants, and that this effect is weakly influenced by musical expertise and excerpt duration. Another experiment [42] showed that the time that participants required to initiate an emotional judgement is shorter for familiar than for unfamiliar music, which may indicate that also the emotional involvement (i.e. the feeling of emotions, which is different from the identification of emotions) can be modulated by familiarity. Nevertheless, the time course of emotional responses during music listening has not been investigated in neuroimaging studies, and hence, should be the focus of future investigations.


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