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Study Finds Brain Scans Can Predict Music-induced Emotions, Deduce Type of Melody

Image for representation (Image credit: News18 Creatives)

Image for representation (Image credit: News18 Creatives)

Scientists at the University of Turku in Finland used machine learning and functional magnetic resonance imaging and came to the conclusion that the auditory and motor cortex are activated when happy or sad music plays.

Music has the power to trigger emotions in us but a new study by scientists have found that they can 'see' the kind of melody which is being played by scanning an individual's brain.

Scientists at the University of Turku in Finland used machine learning and functional magnetic resonance imaging and came to the conclusion that the auditory and motor cortex are activated when happy or sad music plays, Daily Mail reported.

The acoustic elements, such as rhythm and melody are determined by the auditory cortex and the motor cortex is the part that relates to the feeling of movement during listening to a song. The researchers also studied the effects of the kind o f music that evokes fear and found it similar to subcortical structures same as that with memory, emotion and pleasure.

The study, published in the Oxford Academic said, "Music can induce strong subjective experience of emotions, but it is debated whether these responses engage the same neural circuits as emotions elicited by biologically significant events,’ researchers shared in the study published in Oxford Academic.

Explaining how they came to the conclusion, researchers said they studied the functional neural basis of music-induced emotions in many people who were made to listen to emotionally engaging music pieces as their haemodynamic brain activity was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging, Daily Mail reported.

102 people were subjected to the study while the researchers scanned their brains. The further used a machine learning algorithm to understand which areas of the brain reacted to the music-induced emotions. Checking their brain scans, thus scientists were able to predict whether the subjects were listening to happy or sad songs.

Scientists explained that since the auditory cortex is important in our ability to understand sound and the acoustic elements like rhythm and melody, it was activated during the study. Even though the study subjects were told to lie down during the experiment, the motor cortex still lit up due to the fact that it plays a significant part in planning, control and execution of voluntary movements.

However, responding to fear, several areas of the brain ended up being activated-the subcortical activity bilaterally in the brainstem, thalamus, putamen and pallidum.

They also studied effects on people who watched videos that elicited strong reactions.

The study also tried to understand the emotions films evoke in minds of people and found that they are somewhat based on the operation of different mechanisms in the brain.

"Films, for instance, activate the deeper parts of the brain that regulate emotions in real-life situations. Listening to music did not strongly activate these regions nor did their activation separate the music-induced emotions from each other. This may be due to the fact that films can more realistically copy the real-life events that evoke emotions and thus activate the innate emotion mechanisms, the Science Daily reported.

first published:December 30, 2020, 13:28 IST