Why does music make us emotional?

It’s a question that has puzzled scientists for decades: ” Why should something as abstract as music induce such a consistent response?”

In a new study, a team of researchers from USC Dornsife College of Literature, Arts and Sciences and Viterbi School of Engineering, with the help of artificial intelligence, investigated how music affects the brain. , body and emotions of the listener.

For the test, the team chose three emotional tracks that did not contain lyrics and were not very familiar, so there was no element of memory attached to the listener’s emotional response. (For example, previously listening to a song during wisdom tooth extraction may also skew current perceptions of the song.)

Why does music make us emotional?
Identifying ways to affect the brain through music will greatly help the therapeutic processes in humans related to emotions.

In the neurological experiment, 40 volunteers listened to a series of sad or happy musical excerpts while their brains were scanned with an MRI. This was done at the USC Dornsife Brain and Creation Institute by assistant professor of psychology Assal Habibi and her team.

To measure the physical response, 60 people listened to music on headphones, while heart activity and skin conductivity were measured. The same group also rated emotional intensity (happy or sad) from 1 to 10 while listening to music.

The computer scientists then scrutinized the data obtained with an artificial intelligence algorithm to determine which auditory features people responded to consistently.

In the past, neuroscientists trying to better understand the effects of music on the body, brain and emotions have analyzed MRI brain scans over very short segments of time.

In contrast, in this study, using algorithms to analyze data collected in the lab, the scientists were able to look at how people felt when listening to music for longer periods of time, not just from scans. brain, but also using data from other modes.

In addition to helping researchers identify songs for the perfect workout, study, or sleep playlist, the study also has music therapy apps that have been shown to help calm anxiety, reduce anxiety, and reduce anxiety. pain and help people with disabilities or dementia.

“From a therapeutic perspective, music is a really good tool to create emotions and bring about a better mood. Using this study, we were able to design musical stimuli for therapy in bass. It also helps us understand how emotions are processed in the brain,” Habibi said.