Listening to music can change the way you judge facial emotions

May 06, 2009

A research project led by Dr Joydeep Bhattacharya at Goldsmiths, University of London has shown that it is possible to influence emotional evaluation of visual stimuli by listening to musical excerpts before the evaluation.

It is often said that music is the language of emotions. Simply, we are moved by music. But can these musically induced emotions arising through the auditory sense influence our interpretation of emotions arising through other senses (eg visual)?

A research project led by Dr Joydeep Bhattacharya at Goldsmiths, University of London has shown that it is possible to influence emotional evaluation of by listening to musical excerpts before the evaluation. Volunteers listened to a short musical excerpt (15 seconds) and then judged the emotional content of a face. The research found that the prior listening to happy music significantly enhanced the perceived happiness of a face and likewise listening to sad music significantly enhanced the perceived sadness of a face, and this music-induced effect was maximal when the face was emotionally neutral. Further, by recording , the study showed that prior listening to music could induce changes in the brain activation patterns which are usually not directly under our conscious control.

 “What surprises us,” Bhattacharya said, “is that even as short as 15 sec of music can cause this effect. However more research is needed to find how long the effect lasts or if, and how, other factors such as musical preference, personality, control this effect.”

So next time you meet your boss, listen to a happy tune beforehand. At least they will appear pleasant even though they might reject your holiday application!

“Although music is primarily related to auditory modality,” Dr. Bhattacharya commented, “it has functionally significant cross-modal components: some of which we can consciously control, and some others, possibly not!”

Now it’s time to turn on the music!

More information: N. Logeswaran and J. Bhattacharya (2009) Crossmodal transfer of emotion by . Neuroscience Letters 455: 129-133.

Source: Goldsmiths, University of London

Explore further: Neurons in human skin perform advanced calculations

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Language of music really is universal, study finds

Mar 19, 2009

Native African people who have never even listened to the radio before can nonetheless pick up on happy, sad, and fearful emotions in Western music, according to a new report published online on March 19th in Current Biology. The re ...

Babies distinguish between happy, sad music

Oct 16, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Babies as young as 5 months old can distinguish an upbeat song from among gloomier compositions; and by the time they're 9 months, they can also pick out the sad song from among the happy ones. That's according ...

Why musicians make us weep and computers don't

Jul 09, 2008

Music can soothe the savage breast much better if played by musicians rather than clever computers, according to a new University of Sussex-led study published in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE.

Recommended for you

Surprising new role for calcium in sensing pain

4 hours ago

When you accidentally touch a hot oven, you rapidly pull your hand away. Although scientists know the basic neural circuits involved in sensing and responding to such painful stimuli, they are still sorting ...

Neurons in human skin perform advanced calculations

Sep 01, 2014

Neurons in human skin perform advanced calculations, previously believed that only the brain could perform. This is according to a study from Umeå University in Sweden published in the journal Nature Ne ...

Memory in silent neurons

Aug 31, 2014

When we learn, we associate a sensory experience either with other stimuli or with a certain type of behavior. The neurons in the cerebral cortex that transmit the information modify the synaptic connections ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

zuala
not rated yet Jun 18, 2009
I agree with that. I am amazed that how religion song can convert a person. Especial for Christian Gospel music and song really useful to promote a life of man.