Co-supervision of Doctoral Thesis of Eduardo Garza Villareal, completed 2011

Brattico, E. (Bihandledare)

Aktivitet: ExaminationstyperHandledare eller bihandledare av doktorsavhandling


The Ph.D. is based on a Study 1 about the cognitive and emotional processing of musical
structures, and Study 2 about the influence of cognitive and emotional responses to music on
pain. The experiments were performed at the Cognitive Brain Research Unit, University of
Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, and the Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, University
of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark.
In Study 1 we examined the event-related potentials recorded with electroencephalography in
non-musicians. We hypothesized that cognitive processing of music follows a hierarchical
structure derived from long-term memory, and violations of culture-dependent musical rules
elicit specific event-related potentials whose amplitude is related to the hierarchical structure and
reflected by reported emotional responses. Violations of simple hierarchical structures elicited an
MMN localized in the temporal cortex, whereas violations of more complex hierarchical
structures elicited an ERAN localized in the frontal cortex. We confirmed distinct cognitive
processing of different musical violations embedded in the same musical context, implying an
influence of music on cognition. In particular, mistuned chords elicited an MMN located in the
temporal lobe whereas syntactically incongruous chords elicited an ERAN located in the frontal
lobe. Also, we showed an influence of cognitive musical processing on emotion which is
reflected by the perception of violations of harmony as unpleasant.
In Study 2 investigated the analgesic effect of different auditory stimuli with similar emotional
characteristics, the placebo effect of music-induced analgesia, and the effect of suggestion. We hypothesized that active auditory distraction reduces pain more than relaxing Sounds and Music.
Passive auditory stimuli with similar emotional characteristics have the same analgesic effect,
which is also influenced by personality traits and cognitive style. Further, we hypothesize that an
important part of the analgesic effect of music is mediated by placebo effects, and these are
influenced by happy and sad emotions attributed to the auditory stimuli. Our study showed that
mental arithmetic is better than unfamiliar music to reduce pain. We confirmed that emotional
perception of the auditory stimuli greatly influences pain perception, rather than stimuli
themselves. We also found that there is placebo analgesia present in auditory stimuli and music.
Suggestion and belief did not fully affect the pain ratings. However, placebo analgesia seems to
be mediated mainly by emotional, as the placebo condition with perceived positive emotions
influenced the effect of suggestion.
Taken together, these studies show a close relation between cognitive and emotional processing
of auditory stimuli. We propose that understanding this relation as a shared neural network could
explain help why music has analgesic effects. We also suggest that the main mechanism by
which music induces analgesia are emotion, distraction and placebo effect. Individual differences
as deriving from cognitive style have, instead, a minor role in determining music-induced
analgesia. This could mean that, regardless of cognitive style, everyone could potentially benefit
from the analgesic effects of music.

Title of thesis: Cognitive and emotional processing of music and its effect on pain
ExaminandM.D. Eduardo Adrian Garza Villareal
Examination vidUniversity of Århus