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Implicit Processing of Visual Emotions Is Affected by Sound-Induced Affective States and Individual Affective Traits

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  • Tiziana Quarto, Univ Bari, University of Bari, Dept Basic Med Sci Neurosci & Sense Organs, Psychiat Neurosci Grp, Denmark
  • Giuseppe Blasi, Univ Bari, University of Bari, Dept Basic Med Sci Neurosci & Sense Organs, Psychiat Neurosci Grp, Denmark
  • Karen Johanne Pallesen, Aarhus Univ, Aarhus University, Aarhus Univ Hosp, Res Clin Funct Disorders & Psychosomat, Aarhus Univ, Aarhus University, Interacting Minds Ctr
  • ,
  • Alessandro Bertolino, Hoffman La Roche Ltd, Roche Holding, Roche Holding Switzerland, Neurosci DTA, PRED, Denmark
  • Elvira Brattico

The ability to recognize emotions contained in facial expressions are affected by both affective traits and states and varies widely between individuals. While affective traits are stable in time, affective states can be regulated more rapidly by environmental stimuli, such as music, that indirectly modulate the brain state. Here, we tested whether a relaxing or irritating sound environment affects implicit processing of facial expressions. Moreover, we investigated whether and how individual traits of anxiety and emotional control interact with this process. 32 healthy subjects performed an implicit emotion processing task (presented to subjects as a gender discrimination task) while the sound environment was defined either by a) a therapeutic music sequence (MusiCure), b) a noise sequence or c) silence. Individual changes in mood were sampled before and after the task by a computerized questionnaire. Additionally, emotional control and trait anxiety were assessed in a separate session by paper and pencil questionnaires. Results showed a better mood after the MusiCure condition compared with the other experimental conditions and faster responses to happy faces during MusiCure compared with angry faces during Noise. Moreover, individuals with higher trait anxiety were faster in performing the implicit emotion processing task during MusiCure compared with Silence. These findings suggest that sound-induced affective states are associated with differential responses to angry and happy emotional faces at an implicit stage of processing, and that a relaxing sound environment facilitates the implicit emotional processing in anxious individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103278
JournalP L o S One
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2014

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