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Effect of positive emotions induced by music

Published by Oxford University Press. For commercial re-use, please contact journals. We used event-related potentials ERP to investigate whether music-induced positive mood has comparable effects on selective attention in the auditory domain. Behaviorally, these subjects tended to show heightened error rates on target trials following the distractor sounds. Effect of positive emotions induced by music, the ERP and behavioral results indicate that the subjects in a happy mood allocated their attentional resources more diffusely across the attended and the to-be-ignored channels.

Therefore, the current study extends previous research on the effects of mood on visual attention and indicates that even unfamiliar instrumental music can broaden the scope of auditory attention via its effects on mood. Within experimental psychology, it has been long recognized that affective states can influence a range of cognitive processes Ashby et al.

For instance, behavioral and neuroscientific studies have shown that executive control of attention—an emblematic example of higher order cognition—is dependent on emotion Schupp et al. A vast majority of these studies have examined how involuntary, bottom-up capture of attention and voluntary, top-down maintenance of attentional focus is biased towards emotional stimuli Schupp et al.

Far fewer studies have investigated how the affective state of the individual is reflected on these attentional functions and their neural correlates.

The idea that positive affective states broaden and negative states constrict the scope of attention has a long tradition in cognitive psychology Fredrickson, 2001. Empirical support for the first notion comes from behavioral studies indicating that positive mood promotes a global bias in global-local visual processing experiments Fredrickson and Branigan, 2005more flexible allocation of attention from one visual stimulus to the next in the attentional blink paradigm Olivers and Nieuwenhuis, 2006 implicit learning of to-be-ignored text Biss et al.

In line with this proposition, Dreisbach and Goschke 2004 found that positive mood increased interference from novel distractors in a visual categorization task. Along the same lines, Rowe et al. Furthermore, a recent study reported that subjects were more susceptible to distraction by deviant sounds during a audio-visual oddball task after a positive mood induction Pacheco-Unguetti and Parmentier, 2015.

Thus, these studies suggest that positive mood may promote more broad focus of attention and flexible switching at the expense of filtering out irrelevant peripheral information.

Music-induced positive mood broadens the scope of auditory attention

Evidence from event-related potential ERP and neuroimaging studies also supports the supposed expansion of attentional focus in positive mood. Specifically, induction of positive mood has been reported to augment early cortical ERP responses to peripheral visual stimuli while subjects fixate on a central discrimination task Moriya and Nittono, 2011 ; Vanlessen et al.

An fMRI study on the effects of mood on scope of visual encoding took advantage of the relative selectivity of the so-called parahippocampal place area PPA to place information such as pictures of houses Schmitz et al.

Positive mood enhanced the suppression of the PPA response to repeated house images while negative mood induction decreased the PPA response to novel house pictures suggesting that positive mood broadened and negative mood reduced the scope of visual encoding.

Finally, an fMRI study by Trost et al. According to this framework, a negative affective state signals a problematic situation that requires detailed oriented, narrow focus of attention whereas a positive affective state indicates the absence of a problem in the environment and as a consequence a lowered need for highly focused attention and effort Mitchell and Phillips, 2007.

Echoing this notion, the effects of positive affect on attention have been described in terms of relaxation of inhibitory control Rowe et al. Other authors have argued that cognitive control itself is an inherently emotional process Inzlicht et al. Namely, it has been proposed that situations requiring cognitive control always trigger a negative affective state and, furthermore, that this negative state is critical for mobilizing the effort needed for cognitive control Inzlicht et al.

One prediction that follows from this proposition is that positive mood should counteract the negative affect driving cognitive control van Steenbergen, 2015 and thereby loosen control over attentional focus Pacheco-Unguetti and Parmentier, 2015.

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If positive mood broadens the scope of attention, it might at first glance seem that sad mood should promote highly focused attention. However, while some studies support this notion Schmitz et al.

Namely, some studies indicate that similarly to happy mood, sadness also induces more flexible switching of attention in attentional blink experiment Jefferies et al. Such results are compatible with the proposal that all non-neutral emotional states induce a cognitive load and thereby deplete resources for control over attention [for a critical discussion, see Mitchell and Phillips 2007 ].

The vast majority of the studies reviewed so far have been conducted in the visual domain while the effects of affective states on auditory selective attention remain largely unexplored. Some of the earliest studies on selective attention were conducted in the auditory domain Cherry, 1953 ; Broadbent, 1958 and subsequently a vast body of behavioral, electrophysiological and neuroimaging work on selective auditory attention has accumulated Fritz et effect of positive emotions induced by music.

A classic setting for investigating selective auditory attention is the dichotic listening paradigm Cherry, 1953 in which the participants are presented with two different streams of auditory stimuli simultaneously into the left and right ears and asked to attend one the streams while ignoring the other. In the ERP literature, the influence of selective auditory attention in such paradigms has often been quantified by measuring responses to deviant sounds presented among repeating standard sounds in the unattended channel and to target sounds in the attended channel.

In dichotic listening paradigms as well as in conventional oddball paradigms, unattended deviant sounds elicit a negative-polarity fronto-central deflection between 150 and 250 ms after sound onset. Salient changes in unattended sounds may also elicit the P3a, which is a positive-polarity and fronto-centrally maximal response between 200 and 400 ms Squires et al. The P3a has traditionally been considered a marker of involuntary, bottom-up attention capture Escera et al.

In line with this interpretation, sounds that elicit P3a also consistently deteriorate performance in a concurrent visual or auditory behavioral task Escera et al. Finally, task-relevant target stimuli typically elicit the P3b response, which is a positive polarity deflection with a more parietal maximum and a slower latency relative to that of the P3a. The P3b is generally assumed to reflect effortful, top-down allocation or investment of attentional resources towards task-relevant stimuli Kok, 2001.

In sum, the N1, MMN, P3a and P3b provide a way to investigate whether affective states have comparable effects top-down and bottom-up auditory attention as has previously been demonstrated for visual attention. Surprisingly, no study do date has employed these classic markers of auditory attention to investigate the effects of positive mood on attentional scope. Behavioral measures of distraction reaction times and error rates were obtained by requiring the subjects to press a button each time a target sound was presented.

The aforementioned studies on the effects of mood on attention have mostly employed non-musical mood manipulations such as viewing affective pictures Dreisbach, 2006 ; Schmid et al.

  • When resorting to music for emotional regulation purposes, users are interested in the MER method to predict their induced, or felt emotion;
  • Far fewer studies have investigated how the affective state of the individual is reflected on these attentional functions and their neural correlates;
  • A classic setting for investigating selective auditory attention is the dichotic listening paradigm Cherry, 1953 in which the participants are presented with two different streams of auditory stimuli simultaneously into the left and right ears and asked to attend one the streams while ignoring the other;
  • In line with this proposition, Dreisbach and Goschke 2004 found that positive mood increased interference from novel distractors in a visual categorization task;
  • Furthermore, since allocating attentional resources across competing stimuli has been reported to reduce the P3b, the P3b to the target sounds could also be predicted to be diminished in positive mood;
  • Since our primary aim was to test whether mood induced by music per se is sufficient to influence attention, we minimized the possible confounding effects of autobiographical memories and lyrical content by using unfamiliar instrumental music.

Even those studies that have utilized music have tended to pair music listening with additional emotion inducing tasks such as the recalling or imagining of emotional life events Pacheco-Unguetti and Parmentier, 2013 or generating mood congruent thoughts Effect of positive emotions induced by music et al.

In the current study, we test whether mood induced by simply listening to unfamiliar instrumental music can affect attentional scope in the auditory domain. Furthermore, since allocating attentional resources across competing stimuli has been reported to reduce the P3b, the P3b to the target sounds could also be predicted to be diminished in positive mood.

Finally, the sad mood induction condition allowed us to test whether music-induced sadness augments or decreases responsiveness to to-be-ignored stimuli, both of which have been reported previously in studies using other than purely musical mood induction Schmitz et al.

Materials and methods Participants Fifty-seven volunteers with normal hearing and no history of neurological disorders participated in the experiment.

The subjects were pseudo-randomly assigned to sad, neutral or happy musical mood induction condition. Two subjects were excluded from further analyses due to a technical failure during the EEG recording and one due to a very low hit rate in the task. Thus, the final sample consisted of 54 subjects Sad: The subjects were rewarded with a movie ticket for their participation.

Procedure The experimental session began with the attachment of the EEG electrodes and a short practice trial of the task. Thereafter, the subjects underwent a mood induction protocol that lasted for 3 min and consisted of listening to an excerpt of a sad, neutral or happy musical piece. Since our primary aim was to test whether mood induced by music per se is sufficient to influence attention, we minimized the possible confounding effects of autobiographical memories and lyrical content by using unfamiliar instrumental music.

The subjects were instructed to concentrate on listening to the music and were informed that they will receive questions about the music afterwards.

  • The P3a has traditionally been considered a marker of involuntary, bottom-up attention capture Escera et al;
  • The idea that positive affective states broaden and negative states constrict the scope of attention has a long tradition in cognitive psychology Fredrickson, 2001.

The role of affect was not explicitly mentioned. After listening to the musical piece, the subjects reported how much they liked the music, and how well a set of emotion terms e. The questions and emotion terms were presented one by one on a computer screen and the subjects gave their answers by a button press. In addition to the piece used in the mood induction, all subjects also rated the other two pieces as a part of another task to be reported elsewhere.

The mood induction was followed by a dichotic listening experiment.

They were instructed to press one button on a response box when they heard one the piano sound and push another button when they heard the trumpet sound the sound-button association was counterbalanced across subjects. The dichotic listening task was divided into two approximately 5-min blocks.

  • In the dichotic listening task Figure 1 , sounds were presented in an alternating manner to the left and right ears i;
  • If positive mood broadens the scope of attention, it might at first glance seem that sad mood should promote highly focused attention;
  • We used event-related potentials ERP to investigate whether music-induced positive mood has comparable effects on selective attention in the auditory domain;
  • In the current study, we test whether mood induced by simply listening to unfamiliar instrumental music can affect attentional scope in the auditory domain;
  • Since our primary aim was to test whether mood induced by music per se is sufficient to influence attention, we minimized the possible confounding effects of autobiographical memories and lyrical content by using unfamiliar instrumental music;
  • The subjects were instructed to concentrate on listening to the music and were informed that they will receive questions about the music afterwards.

Between the blocks subjects listened to a one-minute reminder excerpt of the musical piece they heard during the mood induction. These pieces have been used in previous studies to successfully induce the positive, negative and neutral mood states Krumhansl, 1997 ; Vuoskoski and Eerola, 2012. In the dichotic listening task Figure 1sounds were presented in an alternating manner to the left and right ears i. The Non-target and Cue sounds were complex tones with two upper harmonic partials that were —3 and —6 dB relative to the fundamental, respectively.