The neuroaesthetics of music

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  • Elvira Brattico
  • Marcus Pearce, Univ London, University of London, Sch Elect Engn & Comp Sci

The increasingly intensive study of music by neuroscientists over the past two decades has established the neurosciences of music as a subdiscipline of cognitive neuroscience, responsible for investigating the neural basis for music perception, cognition, and emotion. In this endeavor, music perception and cognition have often been compared with language processing and understanding, while music-induced emotions are compared with emotions induced by visual stimuli. Here, we review research that is beginning to define a new field of study called neuroaesthetics of music. According to this fresh perspective, music is viewed primarily as an expressive art rather than as a cognitive domain. The goal of this emerging field is to understand the neural mechanisms and structures involved in the perceptual, affective and cognitive processes that generate the three principal aesthetic responses: emotions, judgments, and preference. Although much is known about the frontotemporal brain mechanisms underlying perceptual and cognitive musical processes, and about the limbic and paralimbic networks responsible for musical affect, there is a great deal of work to be done in understanding the neural chronometry and structures determining aesthetic responses to music. Research has only recently begun to delineate the modulatory effects of the listener, listening situation, and the properties of the music itself on a musical aesthetic experience. This article offers a review and synthesis of our current understanding of the perceptual, cognitive, and affective processes involved in an aesthetic musical experience and introduces a novel framework to coordinate future endeavors in an emerging field.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Volume7
Issue1
Pages (from-to)48-61
Number of pages14
ISSN1931-3896
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

    Research areas

  • music, auditory cortex, cognitive neuroscience, pitch, rhythm, BRAIN-REGIONS, EMOTIONAL RESPONSES, AESTHETIC APPRECIATION, DIMENSIONAL MODELS, AUDITORY-CORTEX, CORE AFFECT, RECOGNITION, EXPERIENCE, PATTERNS, REWARD

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