The origins of the aesthetic enjoyment of music - a review of the literature

Elvira Brattico, Pauli Brattico, Thomas Jacobsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review


Listeners attribute a positive or negative value to music. This aesthetic experience is known to be observable over the individuals' entire life span, from early childhood to old age, and in every culture. It is then often concluded that such an aesthetic experience constitutes part of the human nature, having an important biological foundation. This assumption leads to the question of how aesthetic experience of music originated in the biological evolution. in this paper, we will explore this question in the light of evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, and systems neuroscience. After reviewing the existing proposals, we conclude that the explanation of the origin of aesthetic experience in music is likely to involve a more heterogeneous set of biological mechanisms than what is often assumed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMusicae Scientiae
Issue numberspecial issue 2009-2010
Pages (from-to)15-39
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2009
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

Fields of Science

  • 515 Psychology

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