Fear across the senses: brain responses to music, vocalizations and facial expressions


    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

Intrinsic emotional expressions such as those communicated by faces and vocalizations have been shown to engage specific brain regions, such as the amygdala. Although music constitutes another powerful means to express emotions, the neural substrates involved in its processing remain poorly understood. In particular, it is unknown whether brain regions typically associated with processing ‘biologically relevant’ emotional expressions are also recruited by emotional music. To address this question, we conducted an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging study in 47 healthy volunteers in which we directly compared responses to basic emotions (fear, sadness and happiness, as well as neutral) expressed through faces, non-linguistic vocalizations and short novel musical excerpts. Our results confirmed the importance of fear in emotional communication, as revealed by significant blood oxygen level-dependent signal increased in a cluster within the posterior amygdala and anterior hippocampus, as well as in the posterior insula across all three domains. Moreover, subject-specific amygdala responses to fearful music and vocalizations were correlated, consistent with the proposal that the brain circuitry involved in the processing of musical emotions might be shared with the one that have evolved for vocalizations. Overall, our results show that processing of fear expressed through music, engages some of the same brain areas known to be crucial for detecting and evaluating threat-related information.

    loading  Loading Related Articles