Tunes stuck in your brain: The frequency and affective evaluation of involuntary musical imagery correlate with cortical structure

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  • Nicolas Farrugia
  • ,
  • Kelly Jakubowski
  • ,
  • Rhodri Cusack, Denmark
  • Lauren Stewart

Recent years have seen a growing interest in the neuroscience of spontaneous cognition. One form of such cognition is involuntary musical imagery (INMI), the non-pathological and everyday experience of having music in one's head, in the absence of an external stimulus. In this study, aspects of INMI, including frequency and affective evaluation, were measured by self-report in 44 subjects and related to variation in brain structure in these individuals. Frequency of INMI was related to cortical thickness in regions of right frontal and temporal cortices as well as the anterior cingulate and left angular gyrus. Affective aspects of INMI, namely the extent to which subjects wished to suppress INMI or considered them helpful, were related to gray matter volume in right temporopolar and parahippocampal cortices respectively. These results provide the first evidence that INMI is a common internal experience recruiting brain networks involved in perception, emotions, memory and spontaneous thoughts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Volume35
Pages (from-to)66-77
Number of pages12
ISSN1053-8100
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

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