Identifying Emotion in Sound

From “Musicians’ Brains ‘Fine-Tuned’ to Identify Emotion,” by Wendy Leopold

In a study in the latest issue of European Journal of Neuroscience, an interdisciplinary Northwestern research team for the first time provides biological evidence that musical training enhances an individual’s ability to recognize emotion in sound.

“Quickly and accurately identifying emotion in sound is a skill that translates across all arenas, whether in the predator-infested jungle or in the classroom, boardroom or bedroom,” says Dana Strait, primary author of the study.

A doctoral student in the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music, Strait does research in the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory directed by neuroscientist Nina Kraus. The laboratory has done pioneering work on the neurobiology underlying speech and music perception and learning-associated brain plasticity.   

[A] study titled “Musical Experience and Neural Efficiency: Effects of Training on Subcortical Processing of Vocal Expressions in Emotion,” [which was] funded by the National Science Foundation, found that the more years of musical experience musicians possessed and the earlier the age they began their music studies also increased their nervous systems’ abilities to process emotion in sound.

[Thanks Dōshin!]