Breaking News
August 14, 2018 - Reducing opioid prescriptions for one operation can also spill over to other procedures
August 14, 2018 - E-cigarettes not so safe but still better than cigarettes
August 14, 2018 - Researchers find link between common ‘harmless’ virus and cardiovascular damage
August 14, 2018 - Initiation of PIMs associated with higher risk of fracture-specific hospitalizations and mortality
August 14, 2018 - Genetically modified mosquitoes and special bed nets help tackle deadly diseases
August 14, 2018 - Advances in treating hep C lead to new option for transplant patients
August 14, 2018 - Study finds quality of doctor-patient discussions about lung cancer screening to be ‘poor’
August 14, 2018 - MSU researchers uncover the effects of aging on regenerative ability of kidneys
August 14, 2018 - Better conditioning, throwing mechanics can help reduce elbow injuries in young baseball pitchers
August 14, 2018 - Brain game doesn’t offer brain gain
August 14, 2018 - Reproductive choices facing women with disabilities require careful consideration
August 14, 2018 - Scientists pinpoint the cause of a rare childhood seizure disorder
August 14, 2018 - Lumpectomy plus radiation associated with reduced risk of breast cancer death, study finds
August 14, 2018 - UAB study shows how ion channel differentiates newborn and mature neurons in the brain
August 14, 2018 - Experts highlight key knowledge gaps that need to be addressed in Ebola vaccine research
August 14, 2018 - Discovery could lead to new drugs against infection and inflammation
August 14, 2018 - Infection Prevention Differs Between Small, Large Hospitals
August 14, 2018 - Mom still matters—In study, young adults tended to prioritize parents over friends
August 14, 2018 - Deep brain stimulation might benefit those with severe alcoholism, preliminary studies show
August 14, 2018 - Study finds increased rate of repeat pregnancies in women with intellectual and developmental disabilities
August 14, 2018 - Lighter sedation fails to reduce risk of postoperative delirium in older patients
August 13, 2018 - Asking better questions about person’s memory could improve doctors’ understanding of patients
August 13, 2018 - U.S. Trauma Doctors Push for Stricter Gun Controls
August 13, 2018 - Asthma and flu: a double whammy
August 13, 2018 - 5 Questions: Donna Zulman on engaging high-need patients in intensive outpatient programs | News Center
August 13, 2018 - Behavioral Nudges Lead to Drop in Prescriptions of Potent Antipsychotic
August 13, 2018 - Potential New Class of Drugs May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk by Targeting Gut Microbes
August 13, 2018 - How to get your kids to eat better
August 13, 2018 - The importance of hearing your patients
August 13, 2018 - Transmission of F. tularensis unlikely to happen through the food chain
August 13, 2018 - Researchers discover epigenetic mechanism underlying ischemic cardiomyopathy
August 13, 2018 - Adolescent health programs receive only a tiny share of international aid, finds research
August 13, 2018 - Fracture risk increases by 30% after gastric bypass, study shows
August 13, 2018 - Quality-improvement project to standardize feeding practices helps micro preemies gain weight
August 13, 2018 - Long-term cannabinoid exposure impairs memory, study shows
August 13, 2018 - New intervention to reduce risk of HIV in young transgender women
August 13, 2018 - Japan human trial tests iPS cell treatment for Parkinson’s
August 13, 2018 - Altered nitrogen metabolism may contribute to emergence of new cancer mutations
August 13, 2018 - Cycling provides greatest health benefits, study finds
August 13, 2018 - Scientists discover biomarker for kidney cancer
August 13, 2018 - New test predicts the risk of serious disease before symptoms appear
August 13, 2018 - Cianna Medical receives FDA 510(k) clearance to extend indication of SCOUT reflector for use in soft tissue localization
August 13, 2018 - Ground-breaking discovery offers new hope for treatment of Alzheimer’s, other neurological diseases
August 13, 2018 - Medical nutrition therapy provided by RDNs benefits patients with chronic kidney disease
August 13, 2018 - Prenatal Tdap vaccination not linked with increased risk of autism in children, study shows
August 13, 2018 - One-Third of Canadian Patients Get Hip Fx Repair Within 24 Hours
August 13, 2018 - ANA (Antinuclear Antibody) Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
August 13, 2018 - Traffic jams in the brain
August 13, 2018 - NIH awards $6.5 million to establish multi-institution biomedical technology resource center
August 13, 2018 - New marker in the blood could help predict person’s risk of developing kidney cancer
August 13, 2018 - New biomarker may provide clues to create diagnostic tool for hypoglycemia-associated autonomic failure
August 13, 2018 - Oxidative Stress Hampers Blood Vessel Dilation in Men
August 13, 2018 - Parents’ Religious Beliefs May Affect Kids’ Suicide Risk: Study
August 13, 2018 - Measure of belly fat in older adults is linked with cognitive impairment
August 13, 2018 - FDA permits marketing of first mobile medical app for contraceptive use to prevent pregnancy
August 13, 2018 - NUS scientists develop new technology to customize optimal drug ‘cocktail’ for myeloma patients
August 13, 2018 - Disordered eating behaviors up for overweight young adults
August 13, 2018 - Connection between Alzheimer’s disease and degenerative eye diseases
August 13, 2018 - Employer expectation of checking email during nonwork hours affects health of workers and families
August 13, 2018 - Rotavirus vaccination reduces infant diarrhea deaths by 34% in rural Malawi
August 13, 2018 - Approval of drug derived from cannabis not necessarily a win for weed
August 13, 2018 - Study shows COPD risk in women with asthma can be reduced
August 13, 2018 - FIND and genedrive announce study agreement to evaluate HCV ID Kit
August 13, 2018 - One in two people putting their eye health at risk during summer, says eye research charity
August 13, 2018 - FDA Approves Galafold (migalastat) for the Treatment of Fabry Disease
August 13, 2018 - Is too much screen time harming children’s vision?
August 13, 2018 - GNA Biosolutions named as winner of AACC Disruptive Technology Award
August 13, 2018 - New ‘closed-loop’ brain stimulation method improves learning, memory, and skill acquisition
August 13, 2018 - FOXM1 contributes to treatment failure in acute myeloid leukemia
August 13, 2018 - Autoimmune response drives neurodegeneration in glaucoma
August 12, 2018 - Preschooler’s Perfectionism May Predict OCD in Adolescence
August 12, 2018 - Dry mouth problems may be associated with disease in the eyelids
August 12, 2018 - Proof-of-concept technology using nanoparticles could offer new approach for oral medications
August 12, 2018 - GSS sensors provide stable CO2 control for laboratory incubator applications
August 12, 2018 - For Seniors, Getting Physical Protects the Heart
August 12, 2018 - Updated Blood Pressure Guidelines: Lifestyle Changes are Key
August 12, 2018 - Review finds more effective drugs to stop bleeding after childbirth
August 12, 2018 - Study provides snapshot of mechanism behind cancer metastasis for the first time
August 12, 2018 - Birth study empowers pregnant women
August 12, 2018 - New drug makes rats to self-administer alcohol less frequently
People with higher empathy process music differently in their brain, shows research

People with higher empathy process music differently in their brain, shows research

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

People with higher empathy differ from others in the way their brains process music, according to a study by researchers at Southern Methodist University, Dallas and UCLA.

The researchers found that compared to low empathy people, those with higher empathy process familiar music with greater involvement of the reward system of the brain, as well as in areas responsible for processing social information.

“High-empathy and low-empathy people share a lot in common when listening to music, including roughly equivalent involvement in the regions of the brain related to auditory, emotion, and sensory-motor processing,” said lead author Zachary Wallmark, an assistant professor in the SMU Meadows School of the Arts.

But there is at least one significant difference.

Highly empathic people process familiar music with greater involvement of the brain’s social circuitry, such as the areas activated when feeling empathy for others. They also seem to experience a greater degree of pleasure in listening, as indicated by increased activation of the reward system.

“This may indicate that music is being perceived weakly as a kind of social entity, as an imagined or virtual human presence,” Wallmark said.

Researchers in 2014 reported that about 20 percent of the population is highly empathic. These are people who are especially sensitive and respond strongly to social and emotional stimuli.

The SMU-UCLA study is the first to find evidence supporting a neural account of the music-empathy connection. Also, it is among the first to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore how empathy affects the way we perceive music.

The new study indicates that among higher-empathy people, at least, music is not solely a form of artistic expression.

“If music was not related to how we process the social world, then we likely would have seen no significant difference in the brain activation between high-empathy and low-empathy people,” said Wallmark, who is director of the MuSci Lab at SMU, an interdisciplinary research collective that studies — among other things — how music affects the brain.

“This tells us that over and above appreciating music as high art, music is about humans interacting with other humans and trying to understand and communicate with each other,” he said.

This may seem obvious.

“But in our culture we have a whole elaborate system of music education and music thinking that treats music as a sort of disembodied object of aesthetic contemplation,” Wallmark said. “In contrast, the results of our study help explain how music connects us to others. This could have implications for how we understand the function of music in our world, and possibly in our evolutionary past.”

The researchers reported their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, in the article “Neurophysiological effects of trait empathy in music listening.”

The co-authors are Choi Deblieck, with the University of Leuven, Belgium, and Marco Iacoboni, UCLA. The research was carried out at the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA.

“The study shows on one hand the power of empathy in modulating music perception, a phenomenon that reminds us of the original roots of the concept of empathy — ‘feeling into’ a piece of art,” said senior author Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

“On the other hand,” Iacoboni said, “the study shows the power of music in triggering the same complex social processes at work in the brain that are at play during human social interactions.”

Comparison of brain scans showed distinctive differences based on empathy

Participants were 20 UCLA undergraduate students. They were each scanned in an MRI machine while listening to excerpts of music that were either familiar or unfamiliar to them, and that they either liked or disliked. The familiar music was selected by participants prior to the scan.

Afterward each person completed a standard questionnaire to assess individual differences in empathy — for example, frequently feeling sympathy for others in distress, or imagining oneself in another’s shoes.

The researchers then did controlled comparisons to see which areas of the brain during music listening are correlated with empathy.

Analysis of the brain scans showed that high empathizers experienced more activity in the dorsal striatum, part of the brain’s reward system, when listening to familiar music, whether they liked the music or not.

The reward system is related to pleasure and other positive emotions. Malfunction of the area can lead to addictive behaviors.

Empathic people process music with involvement of social cognitive circuitry

In addition, the brain scans of higher empathy people in the study also recorded greater activation in medial and lateral areas of the prefrontal cortex that are responsible for processing the social world, and in the temporoparietal junction, which is critical to analyzing and understanding others’ behaviors and intentions.

Typically, those areas of the brain are activated when people are interacting with, or thinking about, other people. Observing their correlation with empathy during music listening might indicate that music to these listeners functions as a proxy for a human encounter.

Beyond analysis of the brain scans, the researchers also looked at purely behavioral data — answers to a survey asking the listeners to rate the music afterward.

Those data also indicated that higher empathy people were more passionate in their musical likes and dislikes, such as showing a stronger preference for unfamiliar music.

Precise neurophysiological relationship between empathy and music is largely unexplored

A large body of research has focused on the cognitive neuroscience of empathy — how we understand and experience the thoughts and emotions of other people. Studies point to a number of areas of the prefrontal, insular, and cingulate cortices as being relevant to what brain scientists refer to as social cognition.

Activation of the social circuitry in the brain varies from individual to individual. People with more empathic personalities show increased activity in those areas when performing socially relevant tasks, including watching a needle penetrating skin, listening to non-verbal vocal sounds, observing emotional facial expressions, or seeing a loved one in pain.

In the field of music psychology, a number of recent studies have suggested that empathy is related to intensity of emotional responses to music, listening style, and musical preferences — for example, empathic people are more likely to enjoy sad music.

“This study contributes to a growing body of evidence,” Wallmark said, “that music processing may piggyback upon cognitive mechanisms that originally evolved to facilitate social interaction.”

Source:

People who deeply grasp the pain or happiness of others also process music differently in the brain

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles