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Music-induced changes in functional cerebral asymmetries

Hausmann, M.; Hodgetts, S.; Eerola, T.

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S. Hodgetts


SL Hodgetts


After decades of research, it remains unclear whether emotion lateralization occurs because one hemisphere is dominant for processing the emotional content of the stimuli, or whether emotional stimuli activate lateralised networks associated with the subjective emotional experience. By using emotion-induction procedures, we investigated the effect of listening to happy and sad music on three well-established lateralization tasks. In a prestudy, Mozart’s piano sonata (K. 448) and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata were rated as the most happy and sad excerpts, respectively. Participants listened to either one emotional excerpt, or sat in silence before completing an emotional chimeric faces task (Experiment 1), visual line bisection task (Experiment 2) and a dichotic listening task (Experiment 3 and 4). Listening to happy music resulted in a reduced right hemispheric bias in facial emotion recognition (Experiment 1) and visuospatial attention (Experiment 2) and increased left hemispheric bias in language lateralization (Experiments 3 and 4). Although Experiments 1–3 revealed an increased positive emotional state after listening to happy music, mediation analyses revealed that the effect on hemispheric asymmetries was not mediated by music-induced emotional changes. The direct effect of music listening on lateralization was investigated in Experiment 4 in which tempo of the happy excerpt was manipulated by controlling for other acoustic features. However, the results of Experiment 4 made it rather unlikely that tempo is the critical cue accounting for the effects. We conclude that listening to music can affect functional cerebral asymmetries in well-established emotional and cognitive laterality tasks, independent of music-induced changes in the emotion state.


Hausmann, M., Hodgetts, S., & Eerola, T. (2016). Music-induced changes in functional cerebral asymmetries. Brain and Cognition, 104, 58-71.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2016
Online Publication Date Mar 10, 2016
Publication Date Apr 1, 2016
Deposit Date Mar 1, 2016
Publicly Available Date Mar 10, 2017
Journal Brain and Cognition
Print ISSN 0278-2626
Electronic ISSN 1090-2147
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 104
Pages 58-71


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