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‘Emotional Sounds and the Brain: the Neuro-affective Foundations of Musical Appreciation’

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This article summarizes the potential role of evolved brain emotional systems in the mediation of music appreciation. A variety of examples of how music may promote behavioral change are summarized, including effects on memory, mood, brain activity as well as autonomic responses such as the experience of 'chills'. Studies on animals (e.g. young chicks) indicate that musical stimulation have measurable effects on their behaviors and brain chemistries, especially increased brain norepinephrine (NE) turnover. The evolutionary sources of musical sensitivity are discussed, as well as the potential medical-therapeutic implications of this knowledge.
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Emotional sounds and the brain: the neuro-affective
foundations of musical appreciation
Jaak Panksepp
a,
*,Gu
¨nther Bernatzky
b
a
Memorial Foundation for Lost Children, Department of Psychology, J.P. Scott Center for Neuroscience, Mind and Behavior, Bowling
Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA
b
University of Salzburg, Hellbrunner strasse 34 and University Mozarteum, Network Man and Music, Fuerbergstrasse 18-20, A-5020
Salzburg, Austria
Received 19 September 2001; accepted 17 December 2001
Abstract
This article summarizes the potential role of evolved brain emotional systems in the mediation of music appreciation.
Avariety of examples of how music may promote behavioral change are summarized, including effects on memory,
mood, brain activity as well as autonomic responses such as the experience of ‘chills’. Studies on animals (e.g. young
chicks) indicate that musical stimulation have measurable effects on their behaviors and brain chemistries, especially
increased brain norepinephrine (NE) turnover. The evolutionary sources of musical sensitivity are discussed, as well as
the potential medical-therapeutic implications of this knowledge.
#2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Music; Emotions; Chills; Evolution; Chicks; Humans; Brain
1. Introduction
That music can profoundly effect our moods is a
fact of every-day life. However, the manner in
which music helps arouse feelings, ranging from
joy and belongingness to bittersweet sadness and
despair, remains a great mystery. Presumably, if
we did not possess the kinds of social-emotional
brains that we do, human music would probably
be little more than cognitively interesting se-
quences of sounds and, at worst, irritating caco-
phonies. Instead, it can help create a variety of
peak human affective experiences (Gabrielsson,
1991). While some argue that music does not
reflect evolved processes of our brain (e.g. Pinker
(1997) who called music ‘cultural cheesecake’),
others have suggested that it is an important
ingredient in the overall recipe of our evolutionary
fitness (e.g. Miller (2000), who emphasized that it
helps facilitate the success of male sexual court-
ship). In any event, most of us listen to music for
the emotional richness it adds to our lives, and we
rapidly become attached to the music that moves
us, yielding, we suspect, bonds that may have
underlying neurobiological similarities to the love
* Corresponding author. Tel.: /1-419-372-2819; fax: /1-
419-354-6013
E-mail address: jpankse@bgnet.bgsu.edu (J. Panksepp).
Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155
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0376-6357/02/$ - see front matter #2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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and social devotion that people often feel for each
other. As many have declared, music is the
language of emotions.
It is remarkable that any medium could so
readily evoke all the basic emotions of our brains
(and much more), coaxing us to consider our
innermost nature and to savor the affective
dimensions of our minds. Clearly, music gives a
voice to our feelings, and it provides a unique and
highly ethical way to study the emotions of the
human brain/mind. Unfortunately, this medium is
so complex that for a long time methodologically
rigorous psychologists despaired of ever distin-
guishing to what extent emotional changes were
due to specific music attributes such as rhythm and
melody, as compared to personal memories and
acquired dimensions of cultural significance. We
still do not know to what degree these, and many
other factors, influence the emotional impact of
music, but it is bound to be to very complex
interactions that vary substantially from person to
person. Surely human musicians utilize some
culturally shared codes of emotional communica-
tion to produce their sound-magic, but we do
believe there is a deeper trans-cultural, perhaps
trans-species, emotional order to such issues. We
will not dwell on such important issues, but call for
more cross-cultural work (Balkwill and Thomp-
son, 1999) to address the many fundamental
questions raised in this paper.
In addition to the many acquired cognitive
influences on the appreciation of music, we
believe, there is an even deeper affective mystery
within brain organization to which all these
cognitive issues are subservient. To begin to clarify
them, we need to focus on a series of basic
questions: What is it about our brains, our minds,
that make them such receptivevessels for the
emotional power of music? How much has evolu-
tion prepared our neuro-mental apparatus to
appreciate music? How deep in mind/brain evolu-
tion can we find the stamp of rhythmic ‘musical’
dispositions within the neurodynamics of ‘being’?
We do not know the answers to these questions
with any confidence, but the aim of this paper is to
push the barrier of our ignorance by sharing a
large number of approaches we have taken to try
to bring some understanding to our profound
ignorance about these matters. One of our main
aims for this essay is to familiarize readers with the
relevant literature in the area as well as to entertain
some novel ideas concerning how the emotional
impact of music may ultimately arise within the
brain.
In this contribution, we also share some recent
findings and theoretical perspectives concerning
primitive brain systems that may be critical for the
affective-emotional appreciation of music (Pank-
sepp, 1998a). We will largely focus on the neuro-
physiological ways music may enliven our feelings,
and shall provide a variety of relatively novel
examples how such issues may be empirically
approached. We do not share these preliminary
results as definitive findings, but as exemplars of
future ways to proceed, and also to highlight the
many methodological and control issues that will
need to be heeded in future research. In general,
we tend agree with the view advocated by Langer
(1942) that ‘there are certain aspects of the so-
called ‘inner life’, physical or mental, which have
formal properties similar to those of music,
patterns of motion and rest, of tension and release,
of agreement and disagreement, preparation, ful-
fillment, excitation’ and so forth (p. 228).
Our overriding assumption is that ultimately
our love of music reflects the ancestral ability of
our mammalian brain to transmit and receive
basic emotional sounds that can arouse affective
feelings which are implicit indicators of evolution-
ary fitness. In other words, music may be based on
the existence of the intrinsic emotional sounds we
make (the animalian prosodic elements of our
utterances), and the rhythmic movements of our
instinctual/emotional motor apparatus, that were
evolutionarily designed to index whether certain
states of being were likely to promote or hinder
our well-being. However, upon such fundamental
emotional capacities, artists can construct magni-
ficent cognitive structures of sound */musical
cultures*/that obviously go far beyond any simple
affectiveorevolutionary concerns. In any event,
the understanding of how music arouses emo-
tional/affective processes of the brain may be
essential for clarifying the extended love affair of
our species with music. This simple idea has been
resisted by music theoreticians, partly because
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155134
until recently we have known so little about the
emotional processes of the human brain. That is
rapidly changing (Toga and Mazziotta, 2000), and
modern brain imaging is beginning to reveal the
deep subcortical foundations of peak musical
experiences in remarkably many brain areas that
we share homologously with all of the other
mammals (Blood and Zatorre, 2001).
2. Conflicting biological and cultural perspectives
on music
When we begin to think scientifically about
music and emotional issues, we are rapidly con-
fronted by many conceptual difficulties. As the
renowned music theorist Meyer (1956/1994) put it:
‘If we then ask what distinguishes non-emotional
states from emotional ones, it is clear that the
difference does not lie in the stimulus alone. The
same stimulus may excite emotion in one person
but not in another. Nor does the difference lie in
the responding individual. The same individual
may respond emotionally to a given stimulus in
one situation but not in another. The difference
lies in the relationship between the stimulus and
the responding individual’ (p. 11). This places
cultural and learning issues at the very heart of
the musical experience, with a resulting focus on
formal studies of music itself rather than the brain
substrates of emotional experience, and that is
where it has been left by the great majority of
thinkers and investigators. That approach has no
chance of identifying the ‘causal’ antecedents of
the deeper affective mysteries.
Meyer proceeded to extol cognitive rather than
intrinsic affectiveviews of the power of music, as
have others (e.g. Kivy, 1990). They believe emo-
tions conveyed in music are fundamentally differ-
ent from real emotions. However, Meyer’s and
Kivy’s views were advanced before we knew much
about how the brain elaborated emotions and the
degree to which right versus left hemispheres
participate differentially in the affective/inward
versus logical/outward aspects of human lives
(Schiffer, 1998; Springer and Deutsch, 1998). We,
along with others (e.g. Clynes, 1978; Krumhansl,
1997), believe that music derives its affective
charge directly from dynamic aspects of brain
systems that normally control real emotions and
which are distinct from, albeit highly interactive
with, cognitive processes. This view is corrobo-
rated by evidence from brain damaged individuals
(Peretz et al., 1998) as well as modern brain-
imaging (Blood et al., 1999). Once again, this is not
to deny the obvious */that most people appreciate
music through the gateways of their cortico-
cognitive abilities*/but to assert that when music
truly moves us, something quite dramatic happens
in deep subcortical regions of our brains (Blood
and Zatorre, 2001).
Meyer discussed emotional processes in a vein
characteristic for his times*/as undifferentiated
forms of arousal as well as expectations and
thwartings*/even though he did not neglect the
possibility that more specific emotional states
might also be involved. Now we know that there
is a great deal more differentiation in emotional
systems than was long believed (Ekman and
Davidson, 1994). There are distinct brain systems
that mediate anger, fear, joy and sadness (Pank-
sepp, 1982), as well as a variety of other social
emotions (Panksepp, 1998a), and there is increas-
ing evidence that music can activate the body
‘symbolically’ in emotion specific ways (Nyklicek
et al., 1997).
From this modern perspective, it is no wonder
that humans, whether adults or children, can easily
distinguish the basic emotions within music (Dol-
gin and Adelson, 1990; Terwogt and Van Grins-
ven, 1991). Similarly, musicians can easily
improvise individual emotions, and listeners can
identify them accurately and with considerable
confidence (Gabrielsson and Juslin, 1996; Gab-
rielsson and Lindstroem, 1995; Juslin, 1997; Niel-
zen and Cesarek, 1982). In addition to such
emotion specific effects, music is bound to interact
with generalized waking arousal control systems
such as those based on norepinephrine (NE) and
serotonin that regulate emotional responses
(Panksepp, 1986). Also, there is a generalized
incentive SEEKING system, centered on mesolim-
bic and mesocortical dopamine (DA) circuits
(Ikemoto and Panksepp, 1999; Panksepp, 1998a),
that is important in the intra-cerebral estimation
of the passage of time (Meck, 1996). Such basic
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155 135
brain mechanisms for anticipatory eagerness may
generate ‘seeking’ states which may promote
various musical expectancies, especially those
related to rhythmic movements of the body which
may be ancestral pre-adaptation for the emotional
components of music.
Thus, one overall question will concern us here:
without the ancestral emotional systems of our
brains, would music still be a meaningful and
desired experience? We believe the correct answer
is ‘no’. Well constructed music is uniquely effica-
cious in resonating with our basic emotional
systems, bringing to life many affective proclivities
that may be encoded, as birthrights, within ancient
neural circuits constructed by our genes, many of
which we share homologously with other mam-
mals.
This is not to suggest that there is any single
gene or brain ‘module’ that controls music appre-
ciation. Music is not a uni-dimensional process,
and many distinct, but widely distributed, brain
areas participate in the neural coding of music
(Blood and Zatorre, 2001; Halpern and Zatorre,
1999; Liegeois-Chauvel et al., 1998). Classic work
on the neurology of music (e.g. Critchley and
Henson, 1977; Steinberg, 1995) has highlighted a
critical role of the right ‘prosodic’ hemisphere in
affective musical appreciation (Zatorre, 1984)and
expression (Perry et al., 1999), while many of the
analytical components are elaborated more by the
left side of the brain (Peretz, 1990; Sergent et al.,
1992). This simple fact */that emotional and
affective sensitivity are both elaborated more
robustly in the right hemisphere (Peretz, 1990;
Zatorre, 1984)*/again suggests an intimate rela-
tionship exists between affective and musical
processes in the brain. However, it does seem
that some of the positive affective aspects of
musical appreciation arouse left frontal areas while
negative emotions arouse right frontal areas
(Schmidt and Trainor, 2001).
Although an enormous amount of our musical
proclivities are undoubtedly learned, the exquisite
sensitivity of our species to emotional sounds may
be related to the survival benefits that subtle
emotional communications had for us during our
evolutionary history. For instance, it may well be
that we can rapidly convey levels of love, devotion
and empathy through music that would be hard to
achieve with any other mode of communication,
except perhaps for physical touch itself (and we
must recall that sound is a special form of touch).
Thus, it is certainly reasonable to hypothesize that
music was built upon the prosodic mechanisms of
the right-hemisphere that allow us affective emo-
tional communications through vocal intonations.
Parenthetically, the possibility that rhythmic body
movement (e.g. Muybridge, 1957) and the brain
rhythm generators, may have been pre-adapta-
tions for the emergence of music has rarely been
considered (Radocy and Boyle, 1997).
By contrast, the left hemisphere tends to elabo-
rate skills needed to deal with musical information
in more cognitive ways, skills which are not
essential for everyday enjoyment of music (Za-
torre, 1984). For example, following a left-hemi-
sphere stroke, Ravel sustained his appreciation for
music, but lost his ability to render it into any
standard notational system (Cytowic, 1976 as cited
in Cytowic, 1998). Perhaps when musical appre-
ciation shifts to the left hemisphere as a function of
intense musical education, the raw affective appre-
ciation of music may decrease in perceived value.
This may be an implicit reason why emotional
issues are so commonly minimized in musical
research, and all too often, in musical education.
Although the structural characteristics of music
that convey emotions are being clarified (Clynes,
1978, 1995; Gabrielsson, 1995; Peretz et al., 1998),
there are only a few peppercorns of evidence for
how the affective dynamics of music directly
modify brain activities. There is some work on
how the affective properties of music affect the
human electroencephalogram (see Hodges, 1995;
Schmidt and Trainor, 2001; Panksepp and Bekke-
dal, 1997, including work to be summarized later
in this paper). In contrast, there is a great deal
more evidence for how music effects electroence-
phalographic (EEG) parameters independently of
affective issues (see Petsche et al., 1988; Sarnthein
et al., 1997). EEG is of course the only brain
imaging method we have for directly tapping
neuronal activities, but it cannot visualize sub-
cortical systems that are probably critical for
generation of emotional feelings (Panksepp,
2000b). However, the indirect approaches (i.e.
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155136
PET and fMRI) that monitor brain variables
correlated with neuronal activities can visualize
those system, and recent PET evidence highlights
that pleasurable aspects of musical consonance
can arouse subcortical areas such as the septum
(Blood et al., 1999). More recent evidence using
music that could evoke ‘chills’ has highlighted
arousal of even more primitive subcortical regions
of the mind/brain (e.g. Blood and Zatorre, 2001)
including ancient brain areas such as the peria-
queductal gray (PAG) of the midbrain that have
been implicated in the generation of human
affective experiences (Damasio et al., 2000; Pank-
sepp, 1998a,b). Hence, we would advance the idea
that the emotional impact of music is largely
dependent on both direct and indirect (i.e. cogni-
tively mediated) effects on subcortical emotional
circuits of the human brain that seem to be
essential for generating affective processes (Pank-
sepp, 2002).
3. Musical aesthetics, emotions and the brain
Our overriding premise is that, although all our
musical preferences are ultimately culturally con-
ditioned, our minds have been prepared by brain
evolution to resonate with certain affective fea-
tures of life, especially social life, that can be
encoded and symbolized in the melodic variations,
harmonic resonances and rhythmic pulsations of
sound. Indeed, the ability of music to stir our
emotions rather directly is a compelling line of
evidence for the conclusion that cognitive attribu-
tions in humans may not be absolutely essential
for arousing emotional processes within the brain/
mind. For instance Peretz et al. (1998) have
described an individual, similar to Ravel, who no
longer had intact musical cognitions following a
left hemisphere stroke but who still enjoyed music
very much. Indeed, one such individual (C.N.)
could only recognize familiar musical pieces by the
emotions the music aroused (Peretz, 1996).
With the advent of deep brain imaging it is
possible to specify the brain processes that are
most important for generating the affective experi-
ences as individuals listen to the music they love
(Blood and Zatorre, 2001). Indeed, our ability to
decipher the neural underpinnings of aesthetic
responses may turn out to be easier for music
than for the visual arts (e.g. Ramachandran and
Hirstein, 1999). Music probably has more direct
and powerful influences on subcortical emotional
systems than do visual arts. For instance, an
obligatory brainstem way-station for auditory
processing, the inferior colliculus, is where our
mother’s voice may leave its first affective im-
prints: that brain region clearly mediates affective
processes (Bagri et al., 1992) and is richly endowed
with opiate receptors (Panksepp and Bishop,
1981), which may mediate attachments we develop
to certain sounds (e.g. the voices of those we love)
and hence, by a parallel line of reasoning, to
certain types of music (Panksepp, 1995). The
inferior colliculus is also adjacent to the PAG
where all emotional systems converge upon a
coherent self-representation of the organism, a
primordial core consciousness (Damasio, 1999;
Panksepp, 1998a,b). Within such a view, affective
consciousness (i.e. the generation of valenced
feelings, generated largely by the neurodynamics
of subcortical emotional/instinctual system we
share with other animals) needs to be distinguished
from more cognitive forms of consciousness which
generate propositional thoughts about the world
(Panksepp, 2002). Thus, a worthy hypothesis is
that music can arouse such basic emotional circuits
at fairly low levels of auditory input. There are
many reasons to believe that intrinsic emotional
sounds may be decoded within the brainstem.
Indeed, Blood and Zatorre (2001) have recently
found that such deep brain areas can be aroused
by chill-inducing music.
However, our current understanding is that
emotional circuits, and hence the resulting neural
resonances, are widely distributed in the brain,
resembling a tree-like structure, with roots and
trunk-lines in subcortical areas, and branches
interacting with wide canopies in cortical regions
(Panksepp, 1998a). Accordingly, music is bound to
access these emotional systems at many levels. For
instance, auditory processing of musical informa-
tion could easily access the higher reaches of
various emotional systems through temporal lobe
inputs into the amygdala, frontal and parietal
cortical inputs into other basal ganglia such as
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155 137
the nucleus accumbens as well as more direct
inputs to limbic areas such as the cingulate and
medial frontal cortices (Blood et al., 1999; Blood
and Zatorre, 2001). In other words, there may be
no restricted brain ‘module’ that is devoted simply
to musical appreciation. Our love of music is most
likely to emerge from the interplay of many brain
areas, even though, as for all other basic psycho-
behavioral processes, there are also bound to be
systems and neurochemistries of first-order im-
portance (e.g. Panksepp, 1986, 1993). The study of
the role of neurochemical systems that encode
affect within the brain on musical experiences have
barely begun.
In any event, any notion that the human brain
has evolutionary dispositions for the appreciation
of music must be advanced with one enormous
proviso. Despite the attractiveness of certain
evolutionary scenarios (Miller, 2000), it remains
possible that the human brain is not adapted
specifically for music. Rather, in some yet un-
fathomed way, the emergence of music may reflect
the pre-existing emotional adaptations of the
brain. A similar point has been made for language,
leading certain scholars to suggest that the emer-
gence of language may indirectly reflect the
evolved complexities of the brain (Deacon, 1997).
The evidence certainly does not yet mandate the
existence of evolved language modules in the
human brain (Clark, 1997; Panksepp and Pank-
sepp, 2001), even though it is bound to have
distinct brain systems that mediate communicative
urges. By accepting the likelihood that many
cultural dispositions arise developmentally (via
learning), we can avoid falling into the empirically
problematic postulation of specialized cerebral
modules that are presently so popular in ‘evolu-
tionary psychology’ but which may haveno
genetically dictated neurological reality (for cri-
tique, see Panksepp and Panksepp, 2000, 2001).
Obviously, further progress in unraveling such
issues will depend critically on our ability to
understand, in some detail, how social emotional
feelings are actually created within the nervous
system. That project is beginning to crystallize
(Damasio, 1999; MacLean, 1990; Panksepp,
1998a, 2002), and once the neurochemistries of
specific emotions have been decoded within the
mammalian brain, then we should be able to
directly evaluate how those systems contribute to
the deep human feelings evoked by music. At
present one of the few emotion-specific predictions
that could be tested, because of the availability of
clinically approved drugs, is whether opiate recep-
tor antagonists such as naloxone and naltrexone
can diminish our emotional appreciation of music
(for rationale of this prediction, see Panksepp,
1995). Indeed, preliminary data provided by Gold-
stein (1980) have long indicated that such manip-
ulations can reduce the chills or thrills that many
people experience when they listen to especially
moving music. We believe these effects are cen-
trally mediated. Thus, a most interesting issue
would be whether pharmacological manipulations
that diminish our peripheral autonomic arousal
would markedly diminish the emotional impact of
music, as might be predicted by peripheralist
somatic-marker theories like those of James /
Lange and Damasio (1994). Preliminary evidence
with such manipulations has indicated that mini-
mal doses of tranquilizers that reduce peripheral
autonomic effects do not abort the emotional
impact of music (Harrer and Harrer, 1977).
Obviously many higher neural systems are
involved in the various distinct aspects of music
information processing and music appreciation
(Penhune et al., 1999; Peretz, 1990; Peretz et al.,
1994), but we postulate that a great deal of the
emotional power may be generated by lower
subcortical regions where basic affective states
are organized (Damasio, 1999; Panksepp,
1998a,b). The ability of certain types of music to
evoke a deep desire for bodily movements, and the
induction of various autonomic changes by music
is congruent with powerful subcortical influences
of music (Hodges, 1995; Blood and Zatorre, 2001).
In contrast, the perceptual appreciation of the
structural intricacies of music, with the attending
images and expectancies are surely more critically
dependent on higher regions of the brain. Ob-
viously, for the full musical experience many brain
systems need to be coordinated, and one of the
functions of ancient brain emotional operating
systems is to do that (Panksepp, 1998a). It is now
well accepted that as one becomes a skilled
musician, capable of deploying acquired analytical
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155138
and skilled motor abilities, the brain locus of
control for music appreciation tends to shift
from the more emotionally resonant right hemi-
sphere to the more analytical-intellectual left
hemisphere (Zatorre, 1984). However, this in no
way implies that the intensity and clarity of the
emotions induced by music requires much educa-
tion. In many studies, there has been little differ-
ence in skilled musicians and everyday listeners in
decoding the emotional content of music (e.g.
Juslin, 1997; Robazza et al., 1994), even though
differences are evident in their detection of certain
affective indices of speech (Nilsonne and Sund-
berg, 1985) as well as in the precision of attentional
processes that are essential for musical intelligence
(Tervaniemi et al., 1997). In other words, how we
are moved by music and how we produce moving
music entail vastly different psychological pro-
cesses. Our concern here is with the former rather
than the latter.
4. Evolutionary antecedents of musicality
As already indicated, many dynamic aspects of
music probably gain access to human emotional
systems quite directly without having to be pro-
cessed propositionally. This suggests that our
brains’ ability to resonate emotionally with music
may have a deep multidimensional evolutionary
history, including issues related to the emergence
of intersubjective communication, mate selection
strategies, and the emergence of regulatory pro-
cesses for other social dynamics such as those
entailed in group cohesion and activity coordina-
tion. All these social abilities can impact our
moods and hence it is easy to imagine how
affective experiences evoked by emotional sounds
and hence eventually music could have an adaptive
evolutionary basis. Thereby, we can appreciate
why many brain/mind processes (e.g. our deep
inner feelings) that are hard to communicate in
mere words can be more easily expressed in music
(Langer, 1942).
Unfortunately, we do not know and may never
know, with any certainty, how much musicality
comes down to us from some ancestral apprecia-
tion of the inanimate sounds of nature, how much
from the animate sounds of the many creatures on
whom we have depended for sustenance and
companionship throughout our evolutionary jour-
ney, how much comes from the various intrinsic
emotional sounds we readily make, providing a
prosodic background for our intrinsic urges to
communicate with each other through the medium
of sound, and how much from the ability of music
to coordinate group activities, as in hunting and
herding large and dangerous animals or harvesting
crops. These possibilities have been extensively
discussed elsewhere (Roederer, 1984; Storr, 1992;
Wallin et al., 1999). Unfortunately such issues may
forever remain lost in an evolutionary past that
cannot be resurrected with any accuracy (Wallin,
1991).
However, there is one viewpoint that strikes us
as more compelling than the rest: The foundation
of music, as everything else, was surely shaped by
its ability to promote mate-selection and repro-
ductive fitness. In other species, the amount of
vocal activity generated in the service of sexual
attractiveness and arousal is phenomenal (Brad-
bury and Vehrencamp, 1998; Hauser, 1996). Con-
sidering the likelihood that emotional feelings
provide simple metrics that monitor fitness issues,
the capacity to generate and decode emotional
sounds should be excellent tools for survival.
Hence, it is quite understandable that theoreticians
might be enticed by the possibility that adolescents
of our own species may be able to effectively
exhibit their fitness resources by displaying various
forms of musical virtuosity (Miller, 2000). How-
ever, in theorizing about such issues, the potential
role of musicality in mother-infant communication
as well as between family and friends (i.e. group-
selection issues) should loom equally large.
Whether the dynamics of social communication
prepared our own brains for music appreciation
may never be known with any assurance, but the
argument is compelling. In social creatures like
ourselves, whose ancestors lived in arboreal envir-
onments where sound was one of the most
effective ways to coordinate cohesive group activ-
ities, reinforce social bonds, resolve animosities,
and to establish stable hierarchies of submission
and dominance, there should have been a premium
on being able to communicate shades of emotional
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155 139
meaning by the melodic character (prosody) of
emitted sounds. Sound is an excellent way to help
synchronize and regulate emotions so as to sustain
social harmony, as is still dramatically evident in
such species as Gelada monkeys (Richman, 1987),
albeit the social ‘songs’ of the other primates are
vastly more instinctual and stereotyped that those
of humans (Marshall and Marshall, 1976). In sum,
there is much to commend the idea that the most
important evolutionary influences that still govern
our affective responses to music are the natural
neurodynamics of our brain socio-emotional sys-
tems that appear to be exquisitely responsive to the
dynamics of emotional sounds. We would antici-
pate that group selection views, which are again in
ascendancy (Sober and Wilson, 1998), may be
clarified by a close analysis of emotional vocaliza-
tions in animals and the emergence of musical
cultures in humans.
Of course, we are bound to have more empirical
success when we begin to deal with proximal
causal rather than distal evolutionary issues. Let
us consider one straightforward example: Many
suspect that our capacity to sing, first evident in
the sing-song babbling of babies, is an adaptation
that facilitates teaching and learning between
mother and child. Perhaps an especially important
affective/cognitive transition was made when
mothers started to communicate with their infants
with attention grabbing shifts in tempo and
melodic intonations within their spontaneous,
affectively tinged communications known as
motherese (Fernald, 1992; Papousek et al., 1991;
Snow and Ferguson, 1977; Trehub and Trainor,
1988). It is certainly possible that information is
more easily acquired when it is encoded in the
context of dynamically rich musical structures
(Shepard, 1999), an effect that is evident even in
retarded children (Farnsworth, 1969). Fig. 1
summarizes the magnitude of this effect in one of
our projects with undergraduates being taught the
new and intimidating world of neuroanatomical
terminology. Retention of information was sig-
nificantly better when information had been
provided with a musical rather than a non-musical
acoustic carrier.
Parenthetically, similar dynamics may be pre-
sent in the recently heralded ability of classical
music to enhance general spatial abilities, the
highly controversial ‘Mozart Effect’ (for a sum-
mary and critical analysis of the issue by investi-
gators who originally reported the effect, see
Rauscher and Shaw, 1998). However, we should
not forget that this debated and debatable effect
could simply arise from the effects of positive
mood arousal on cognitive performance. Positive
mood effects induced by music can increase
creative output (Adaman and Blaney, 1995).
5. Music, body and dance
Rhythmic movements of the body characterize
the instinctual life of animals, and the dynamics of
these movements may contain ancestral emotional
expressions that are captured in music (Clynes,
1978). The ancestral relationship between move-
ment and sound is probably fundamental to our
nature (Todd, 1985), and it may highlight a deep
adaptation that is still instantiated in the urgent
power and immediacy of dance. Much of the
ancestral knowledge in our species has been
traditionally handed down through ritualized
chanting and dance movements that captured
essential lessons concerning how complex proce-
dures needed to be sequenced. Presumably, the
preadaptations that allowed humans to utilize
such ritual performances for cultural ends were
related to the capacity of emotions to be expressed
in rhythmic body movements. Thus, the ability of
rhythmic emotional sounds to energize and co-
ordinate bodily movement patterns may have
served as an impetus for the cultural co-evolution
of music and dance, and injected a special energy
into other orgiastic events.
In any event, the impact of music on the brain
systems that control bodily movement are pro-
found. As an example, if someone were to measure
them, we would suggest that the copulatory
rhythms of the human species are well encoded
in the rhythms of rock and roll. Thus, in consider-
ing the ability of music to generate affective states,
we should not ignore the ability of the basic
emotional systems to generate distinct forms of
action readiness (Fridja, 1986; Panksepp, 2000a).
The basic dynamics of these systems may be the
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155140
very basis of music and dance. Indeed, we have
recently found that joyous music (Irish jigs) can
increase overall movements in young children in
the midst of rough-and-tumble play (Scott and
Panksepp, 2002).
In this context, it would be most interesting to
know when children begin to exhibit an apprecia-
tion of music, and perhaps this could be monitored
prior to the emergence of propositional speech by
non-verbal measures of musical preferences and
attentional processes (Masataka, 1999; Rock et al.,
1999) as well as by measuring changes in sponta-
neous rhythmic movements in children during
music, as well as by related autonomic changes.
For instance, Chang and Trehub (1977) found that
infants less than half a year of age exhibit changes
in heart rate when the contour of a short melody
was changed. Zentner and Kagan (1996) report
visual orientation changes in 4 month old infants
exposed to dissonant harmonic stimuli which are
not evident with consonant stimuli.
The intimate relations between music and move-
ment may be evident in the neural systems that
control our gross axial body movements such as
basal ganglia of the extrapyramidal motor system.
When some of these neural systems become
imbalanced, as in Parkinson’s disease, some symp-
tomatic relief of motor difficulties may be achieved
through the insistent rhythms of music (see Sacks,
1973,even though more experimental work on this
topic is still urgently needed, including how
musical appreciation changes with this and other
types of neurological damage). In this context, it is
also noteworthy that in some traditional cultures,
a distinction between music and dance is not
made: For example, the Igbo (African) term
‘nkwa’ denotes ‘singing, playing instruments, and
dancing’, and there is apparently no concept in
that culture of ‘music’ being solely based on
sound.
Still we would again re-emphasize that any
attempt to explain music in either evolutionary
or neurophysiological terms will miss the enormity
of musical meaning that is constructed through
diverse socio-cultural dimensions of aesthetics, to
promote any basic psychobiological knowledge in
this difficult field. We must tolerate many provi-
sional simplifications of the underlying complex-
Fig. 1. Acquisition of neuroanatomical terminology. The fifteen anatomical plates that were used as instructional materials are
depicted in Panksepp (1998a), figure 6.8). Half the subjects were given successive exposure to the individual plates with the anatomical
term outlined and read in a regular voice (n/12) or sung operatically (n/12) (both by the same female). Three successive acquisition
sessions were given followed immediately as well as at 1 and 8 days post-acquisition by ‘recognition’ recall from a mixed, visually
presented list of the anatomical names (no significant differences were evident in recognition memory). Also immediately following
training as well as at 1 and 8 days, subjects were presented with the anatomical plates and requested to identify each brain area from
memory (middle panel), followed by a session of ‘free recall’ of as many anatomical terms as possible just from memory (right panel).
Significant, memory improvements were observed with musically trained subjects during the long retrieval interval cued and free recall
tasks.
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155 141
ities. Thus, to highlight how we might empirically
proceed, we will now consider some concrete ways
we might aspire to fathom the emotional dynamics
that may underlie certain emotional aspects of
musical appreciation. Thus, in the rest of this
paper, we will (a) delve into the potential meaning
of some of the physiological effects induced by
music (e.g. chills), (b) cover some of our animal
studies evaluating the physiological and behavioral
consequences of music, and (c) summarize some
recent studies of the effects of music on the human
brain. Finally, we will briefly discuss some ther-
apeutic implications of such lines of investigation.
6. The physiological effects of music: with a focus
on chills evoked by music
A considerable amount of work has been
devoted to analyzing the effects of music on the
body. The fact that music would have fairly robust
effects on various body parameters is to be
expected simply from the fact that music arouses
emotions, and emotions are characterized by many
autonomic changes (for a summary of early work
see Critchley and Henson, 1977 and for more
recent work see Hodges, 1995; Steinberg, 1995). In
this context, it is important to emphasize that
different individuals have distinct physiological
responses to music (Nyklicek et al., 1997; Vander-
Ark and Ely, 1992), suggesting that personality
may be an important component of how people
respond to music. Although still unexplored terri-
tory, the manner in which musical likes and
dislikes relate to temperamental variability is a
question that deserves empirical attention. It may
even help explain why some people take the
affective (Dionysian) and others more cognitive
(Appolonian) points of view to music apprecia-
tion. Our approach here is decidedly Dionysian.
Here, we shall focus on one phenomenological
bodily effect that we have studied systematically,
namely the feeling of ‘chills’ or ‘shivers’ that many
people experience when they listen to music that
moves them, especially bittersweet songs of un-
requited love and longing (Panksepp, 1995) as well
as music that expresses patriotic pride through the
commemoration of lost warriors (e.g. for many
American audiences ‘The Battle Hymn of the
Republic’ is quite effective, and seems to evoke
intense frontal lobe arousal, Panksepp and Bekke-
dal, 1997). Parenthetically, it should be noted that
there are other chilling sounds, like the sound of
fingernails scraping across a blackboard, that are
very aversive(Halper et al., 1986), but that is
probably engendered by a very different brain
response than the ‘chills’ discussed here (but which
may be a useful ‘control’ maneuver for physiolo-
gical studies).
In any event, a subjective experience that people
commonly report when listening to moving music
is a shiver on the neck and back, which commonly
spreads down the limbs and often envelops the
whole body. Although no one has yet adequately
characterized this response, this ‘rush’ experience
probably reflects, at least in part, a galvanic skin
response that is common in emotional situations
(some pilot data provided in Panksepp, 1995,even
though a definitive and properly controlled study
remains to be done). Parenthetically, we have
sought to measure musically induced ‘chills’ using
sensitive thermo-camera imaging of skin responses
in four individuals without any success, but three
of the four individuals we tested experienced no
chills in the medical situation where the testing
occurred, highlighting the importance of proper
environmental conditions for this type of research.
In this context, it is also important to note that
skin conductance changes are commonly observed
in emotion experiments without any accompany-
ing subjective reports of chills. Perhaps piloerec-
tion would be a more specific correlate of the
experience. We would suggest that future investi-
gators may actually want to take videos of skin
areas to monitor changes in piloerection associated
with the experiential changes.
In any event, there are great individual differ-
ences in the incidence and specific musical selec-
tions that evoke this response, but the most
frequent stimuli are new or unexpected harmony,
crescendos and other dynamic shifts (Sloboda,
1991). Although some people*/perhaps the less
socially emotional ones */rarely have such experi-
ences, most others delight in them whenever they
occur. In our experience, females generally exhibit
music-induced shivers more frequently than males,
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155142
and in accordance with the usage of most people,
we will refer to this autonomic ‘rush’ as a ‘chill’
response. In this context, it is noteworthy that girls
use music for mood regulation more than boys
(North et al., 2000). In preliminary analysis of ‘big
five’ personality dimensions (i.e. agreeableness,
orderliness, extraversion, openness to experience,
and emotional stability/neuroticism), we have also
found that the number of chills exhibited is
correlated only with ‘agreeableness’ suggesting
that the phenomena is related to pro-social,
nurturant dynamics of individual emotional pat-
terns. And in our experience females typically
score higher on measures of ‘agreeableness’ than
males. The following brief summary of our knowl-
edge about the phenomenon is derived largely
from our admittedly limited work on the psycho-
logical nature of the response (Panksepp, 1995).
Females are more likely than males to recognize
that sad music evokes the chill response more
robustly than happy pieces. However, when one
evaluates this proposition experimentally, it is
clear that sad music generally evokes more reports
of chills than happy music in both males and
females, although the effect is larger in females.
Likewise, musical selections that evoked many
chills were rated as being more sad than those
that did not. Usually, everyone tends to have more
chills to music that they already have an emotional
relationship with, than to music that others have
selected, indicating that the response is partially
based on learned associations that individuals
havedeveloped to the music they enjoy. But,
what is the underlying source of this emotional
response?
In our estimation, a high-pitched sustained
crescendo, a sustained note of grief sung by a
soprano or played on a violin (capable of piercing
the ‘soul’ so to speak) seems to be an ideal stimulus
for evoking chills. A solo instrument, like a
trumpet or cello, emerging suddenly from a softer
orchestral background is especially evocative.
Accordingly, we have entertained the possibility
that chills arise substantially from feelings trig-
gered by sad music that contains acoustic proper-
ties similar to the separation call of young animals,
the primal cry of despair to signal caretakers to
exhibit social care and attention. Perhaps musi-
cally evoked chills represent a natural resonance of
our brain separation-distress systems which helps
mediate the emotional impact of social loss. In
part, musically induced chills may derive their
affective impact from primitive homeostatic ther-
mal responses, aroused by the perception of
separation, that provided motivational urgency
for social-reunion responses. In other words,
when we are lost, we feel cold, not simply
physically but also perhaps neuro-symbolically as
a consequence of the social loss.
This hypothesis is also based on the assumption
that the evolutionary roots of social motivation
may be linked to thermoregulatory systems in
subcortical regions of the brain. Thus, the sound
of someone in distress, especially if it is our child,
may make us feel cold, sending shivers down our
spine. This may be one of nature’s ways to
promote reunion; the experience of separation
may evoke thermoregulatory discomfort which
can be alleviated by the social ‘warmth’ of coming
together again. In this context, it is worth noting
that happy music played to the left ear (preferen-
tially stimulating the right hemisphere) tends to
increase body temperature, while negatively-va-
lenced music has the opposite effect (McFarland
and Kennison, 1989). Whether there are several
distinct autonomic/affective phenomena related to
bodily experiences of this type (e.g. perhaps some
people experience a thrill-type warming effect)
needs further investigation. Also, in this context
it is important to emphasize that emotions can
trigger brief ‘fevers,’ and there may be relations of
musically-evoked ‘chills’ to shifts in thermoregu-
latory set-points whereby shivers and vasocon-
strictions are evoked in order to raise core-
temperature (see Briese and Cabanac, 1991; Ca-
banac, 1999).
If the above lines of thought are on the right
track, then we should be able to reduce the
experience of chills by filtering out the primary
acoustic components of the separation call from
the music. Fig. 2 shows one such experiment where
the bittersweet sounds and crescendos in Meat
Loaf’s rendition of ‘For Crying Out Loud, You
Know I Love You’ were evaluated. The filtering of
several of the acoustic harmonics (i.e. formants) of
the human separation call dramatically reduced
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155 143
the number of chills reported. Of course, in the
absence of a more detailed analysis of other
parameters, this effect may be deemed to simply
reflect the degradation of the overall musical
resonance of the piece, even though that may not
simply be an orthogonal explanation. We would
note, however, that the vocal comprehensibility of
the piece was not diminished by the filtering.
In sum, within musical performances that evoke
chills, a wistful sense of loss blended with the
possibility of reunion may be so well represented
in the dynamics of sound that we become deeply
moved. Such musical experiences speak to us of
our humanness and our profound relatedness to
other people and the rest of nature. The musical
experience may communicate to us the possibility
of redemption, the joy of being found and
nurtured if one is lost. Since naloxone can reduce
the incidence of chills, we can conclude that the
chill response to music is partly controlled by
endogenous opioids, perhaps induced by a rush of
endorphins (Goldstein, 1980), and/or perhaps by a
sudden decline in endogenous opioid activity
(Panksepp, 1995). It was suggested that chills
may be related to socio-emotional systems that
generate separation-distress, circuitry that is con-
centrated in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis
and septal area, the medial diencephalon and the
PAG (Panksepp, 1998a). A recent PET imaging
study has yielded robust arousal of such brain
regions during music that induced abundant chills,
with positive correlations to positive affective
arousal in ventral striatum and midbrain regions
that include the PAG (Blood and Zatorre, 2001).
This last brain area has been implicated as an
epicenter of affective consciousness in mammalian
brains (Panksepp, 1998a,b). In sum, the study of
such musically induced autonomic and affective
responses may have profound consequences for
understanding not only the nature of musical
aesthetics but the psychology and neurobiology
of human emotions. Of course a great deal more
research is needed.
7. The effects of music on moods
Music is one of the more effective mood
induction procedures in experimental psychology
(Camp et al., 1989; Kenealy, 1988; Mayer et al.,
1995; Stratton and Zalanowski, 1991). Stronger
effects are typically obtained if one uses music
selected by subjects rather than the experimenters
(Carter et al., 1995; Thaut and Davis, 1993). For
the conduct of future research, it would be
especially useful to know how long the mood
effects of music are sustained, and how specific
mood changes are to the specific emotions con-
veyed by music.
To evaluate such issues, specific affective state
changes were monitored in the following way: the
mood changes of 16, 19/23 year old college
students were measured following two music
listening sessions, one in which the participants
listened to 40 min of happy music and another
they listened to 40 min of sad music. A seven-point
Likert-type mood scale was used to monitor the
self-rated levels of happiness, sadness, anxiety and
anger at four time points: just before the listening
session, immediately following the session, and at
two 10-min intervals thereafter. Each of the
participants had brought in one selection for
each of the sessions (mostly common popular
American tunes of the early 1990s) and they were
randomly played; following each piece, individuals
rated their levels of happiness and sadness, as well
as how much they liked the music and how much
emotional content each selection contained. Most
of the selections had clear emotional content and
the happy selections were clearly perceived to be
Fig. 2. Total number of self-reported chill responses in 24
college-age subjects during the listening of 8.5 min song by the
group Meat Loaf. During the middle session the output to
speakers was notch filtered by a 40 decibels reduction at the 2, 3
and 4 kHz formants of the separation call.
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155144
happy and the sad selections sad. Since the main
question of this study was to determine how long
music-induced feelings lasted, and participants
were asked not to talk to each other during the
exercise, it was important to minimize boredom
and irrelevant distractions during the post-music
intervals. The time-filler selected was for all
participants to simply write for two 10-min periods
about anything on their mind. This also helped
assure that individuals would continue focussed on
themselves during the post-listening period, and it
was also deemed a satisfactory way to minimize
boredom and to control for other extraneous
variables during those intervals. However, this
raises the interesting methodological issues of
what type of activities should be used during
such intervals. If students wrote about the music
(which was not typically the case) might it prolong
the mood? Would mood change differently, if
participants were asked to write about specific
topics? We simply do not know at present.
In any event, the average data for the mood
rating scales are summarized in Fig. 3, and the
overall pattern was clear. The happy music ele-
vated feelings of happiness, and the sad music
elevated feelings of sadness. For both, the mood
effects were significantly highest immediately after
the music (PB/0.01) and were still significant, but
also significantly diminished at the 10 min time
period (PB/0.05). The music-induced changes had
declined to non-significant levels at the 20-min
time point. It was also noteworthy that both types
of music reduced feelings of anxiety and anger
equally, but those effects were statistically signifi-
cant only at the immediate post-music measure-
ment period.
In sum, these data suggest that one can speci-
fically elevate feelings of happiness and sadness
with music, but these effects lasted no longer than
10 min under the conditions employed. This is
about as long as the controversial ‘Mozart Effect’
has lasted in spatial reasoning tasks (Rauscher and
Shaw, 1998), leading again to the possibility that
those effects are partially mediated simply by the
non-specific emotional or attentional arousal ef-
fects of music. The fact that feelings of anxiety and
anger were also reduced by these manipulations
indicates an interesting interaction among the
emotional processes, but also poses problems in
our ability to interpret any behavioral changes that
may be observed right after the mood-induction
procedures. Although happiness and sadness can
be selectively increased, the concurrent and less
specific reductions in anxiety and anger are
important. Such general emotional effects may be
important in explaining the many other types of
behavioral and potential ‘therapeutic’ changes
(vide infra) that emerge as a consequence of being
exposed to music.
8. The social effects of music
*
/some animal studies
It is an obvious fact that music serves as a
magnet for human social activities. This is not a
trivial observation, for it may highlight one of the
major adaptive functions of music in human
evolution, the ability of music to promote social
interactions is an evident aspect of music use in all
societies. As already mentioned, this dimension is
also a salient aspect of motherese, the tendency of
mothers, and other emotionally sensitive indivi-
duals, to engage babies with melodious sing-song
communications. From such social perspectives,
we might anticipate that music would have some
clear effects on brain neurochemical systems that
help mediate social processes. Of course, such
work is almost impossible to pursue in humans,
except for peripheral plasma or salivary measures
(e.g. VanderArk and Ely, 1992), which, unfortu-
nately, are unlikely to clearly reflect central
transmitter dynamics.
Because of difficulties in conducting such work
in humans, we have expended substantial efforts in
determining whether music can affect the brain
and behavior of experimental animals. At first we
had the naive hope that common laboratory
mammals might enjoy our music, but up to now
we havenever been able to obtain compelling
evidence for that thesis, nor, to our knowledge, has
anyone else. In any event, after a considerable
effort studying the musical preferences of labora-
tory rats, which yielded very little coherent data
perhaps because most of their social communica-
tions are in the ultrasonic range (20 /60 kHz), we
proceeded to an avian model, the newborn domes-
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155 145
tic chick, whose vocal activities are well within our
own range. The results have been striking and
consistent. Although we do not wish to argue that
these effects are consequences of any music
appreciation, we would note that none of the
effects have been simulated with white noise or
mere human voices speaking.
Music can effectively reduce the separation calls
that young domestic chicks exhibit when they are
briefly isolated from social companionship (e.g.
figure 14.8, Panksepp, 1998a). Since separation-
distress is alleviated by very specific neurochemical
manipulations, especially intra-cerebroventricular
infusions of the neuropeptides oxytocin, prolactin,
and all molecules that activate the addiction
sustaining mu-receptor of the opioid family (Pank-
sepp, 1993, 1998a), we might anticipate that music
may activate some of these systems. Although we
have not conducted direct tests of this hypothesis
(indeed, straightforward assays for synaptic re-
lease of these neuropeptides are not routinely
available for small experimental animals), we
would note that music can also produce some
simple fixed-action patterns in chicks, the most
noticeable being a lateral head-flicking response,
yawning, and slight increase in feather ruffling
(Fig. 4). Quite remarkably, these are exactly the
types of fixed-action patterns that are evoked by
infusions of oxytocin into the chick brain, or of the
ancestral neuropeptide vasotocin, both of which
are among the most powerful ways to reduce
separation-distress in birds (Panksepp, 1998a).
From this concordance, we would hypothesize
that music may arouse that neuropeptide system,
one of the best established social-emotional sys-
tems of the vertebrate brain (Carter, 1998; Insel,
Fig. 3. Affective ratings as a function of time on a seven-point Likert scale (one low, seven high) for four emotions before and after 40
min of exposure to happy and sad musical selections.
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155146
1997; Nelson and Panksepp, 1998). However, in
this context, we would note that the capacity of
music to increase milk production, as has been
reported in the popular press, remains controver-
sial and not adequately documented.
It is to be expected, of course, that music and
other sounds may arouse an enormous symphony
of neurochemical effects within the brain. Indeed,
we haveevaluated this proposition in another
unusual line of research measuring the efficacy of
a music-based treatment for early childhood aut-
ism, auditory integration training (AIT). In this
context, we would again worry a bit about
methodological issues, such as exposing animals
to stimuli to which they are not accustomed.
Might some of the effects be simply due to
threatening aspects of the testing environment.
At present, we simply do not know, but the
behavioral and physiological changes we have
observed have been reasonably strong.
AIT is a popular new music-based somatic
therapy for autistic children. It is reported to
reduce auditory sensitivities and to produce a
wide spectrum of beneficial behavioral effects
ranging from increased attention to sociability
(Rimland and Edelson, 1995). In an open trial
with 33 autistic children, we were able to replicate
those effects, and extended them to an animal
model that might allow analysis of the underlying
brain effects (Waldhoer et al., 1995). Chicks were
again selected for the reasons mentioned above.
They were given standard AIT ‘therapy’ (20 half-
hour sessions of listening to modulated wide-band
popular instrumental music, at a mean level of 86
db with bass and treble components randomly
enhanced and dampened by 40 db, with 30 min of
music in the morning and 30 min in the afternoon
for ten successive days at day 2 /12 days of age in a
group-housed listening situation) and their beha-
vioral, bodily and brain responses were contrasted
to those that had listened to the same music
unmodulated as well as a ‘silent’ control group
that had been handled equally but received no
special auditory stimulation. Post music ‘therapy’
effects, replicated now across several experiments,
included increased bodily growth and a reduced
inhibition of separation-induced distress vocaliza-
tions in response to music, but not in response to
self-reflective social cues (i.e. mirrors). Social
approach behavior was not different among
groups.
We then proceeded to study the neurochemical
effects of these manipulations (Bernatzky et al.,
1997). Starting on the second day of life, birds
were given either the AIT type of treatment
commonly used for the treatment of autistic
children (described above), a group that received
the music without modulation, a control group
that listened to a mixture of male and female
human speech on the exact same schedule, and a
control group that received all aspects of the
experiment except they received no systematic
exposure to sound. One to 2 days following the
end of treatment, whole-brain neurochemical
Fig. 4. Frequencies of head shakes and yawns in 7-day-old
domestic chicks as a function of being tested without external
auditory input and exposure to a taped performance of
Beethoven’s Hammerklavier played at an average sound
pressure level of 86 decibels.
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155 147
changes were markedly and similarly changed in
response to both forms of music. No clear changes
were evident following exposure to human voices
as compared with the no-sound controls. Follow-
ing both forms of music, significant elevations
were seen in NE levels ( /400%), monohydrox-
yphenylglycol (MHPG, a major NE metabolite)
levels (/600%), DA levels (/200%), and homo-
vanillic acid (HVA, a major DA metabolite) levels
(/200%). There were no clear change in brain
levels of serotonin (5-HT), epinephrine and calci-
tonin gene related peptide (CGRP). Apparently,
music can have quite powerful effects on the NE
turnover of developing avian brains. Since it is well
established that this amine is important in regulat-
ing attentional resources in all animals that have
been studied (Panksepp, 1986, 1998a), it is possible
that AIT treatment can elevate the attentional
resources of the brain.
In further evaluation of these changes we
determined if these effects could be replicated
with classical music, and whether these effects
interacted with social housing conditions (Ber-
natzky et al., 1998). Half the animals (n/32) were
socially housed in groups of four, and the other
half were individually housed. Animals were
exposed to 30 min of Mozart’s Kroenungskonzert
in the morning, and again in the afternoon for ten
successive days. At the same time the control
animals were exposed to an audiotape of people
speaking at approximately the same 86 decibel
level. A day following the end of treatment,
animals were sacrificed, and brains were assayed
for NE, 5-HT, DA and the DA metabolites HVA
and dihydroxyphenylserine (DOPAC). Although
the overall effects were more modest than ob-
served in the earlier experiment, the results con-
firmed that extended early exposure to classical
music could have complex effects on brain bio-
genic amine levels and metabolism in an avian
species. Exposure to classical music elevated whole
brain NE by 31% (P/0.001) and reduced DO-
PAC by 28% (PB/0.005), and this last effect was
significantly larger in social than isolate animals.
Overall, these results suggest one reason why AIT
training may have had beneficial effects in young
autistic children in certain studies, the music tends
to promote certain brain neurochemical, especially
brain NE, activities, and hence facilitate atten-
tional processes.
Although there are still many control issues to
be addressed in such research (especially the full
delineation of the specific aspects of sound that
may be mediating the observed effects), the above
work leads us to wonder whether members of
other species might also enjoy some of our music.
To our knowledge, no such preference haveever
been adequately documented in birds, and our
many studies on young chicks so far (not described
herein) have not been any more promising than
they were in rats. In this context, we must
remember that the emotional systems of other
animals are probably tuned to very different
sounds than ours. Considering that they have
styles of vocal communication of their own
(Hauser, 1996), they would be expected to find
those sounds rather than ours to be more attrac-
tive, and there is abundant evidence for that in the
socio-sexual realm (e.g. Bradbury and Vehren-
camp, 1998). Assuming that human music is a
supra-liminal affective stimulus based partly on
our ability to appreciate emotional prosody, we
should consider the possibility that we might be
able create simple forms of ‘music’ that other
species would appreciate by amplifying the acous-
tic signals that are emotionally relevant to them.
This could be an intriguing exercise in cross-
species aesthetics, and we hope some composer
will eventually devote some effort to evaluate such
possibilities.
9. The effects of music on the human brain
Many investigators have now tried to character-
ize how music effects the human brain (for an up
to date review see proceedings of a recent NYAS
meeting, Zatorre and Peretz, 2001, which we did
not haveavailable to us when the paper was
written). Many of these findings are outside the
present coverage since they have not sought to
characterize specific emotional effects on the
brain. Although a great deal of brain imaging of
emotional processes has now been published,
rather little work has been conducted to determine
how emotions encoded in music modify brain
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155148
activities. To fill that gap, we evaluated topo-
graphic EEG changes in males and females to
standardized happy and sad pieces from the
Terwogt and Van Grinsven (1991) selections,
with the same segments repeated about 30 times
(which is certainly not an ideal condition for
maintaining the desired aesthetic resonances). In
any event, the repetition was used so that we could
utilize the sensitive ERD and ERS algorithms
developed by Pfurtscheller et al. (1990) which can
be used to map the topography of cognitive
processes on the cerebral surface.
The results were not especially compelling, but
within the sensitive alpha range (8 /12 Hz), there
were modest tendencies in females for happy music
to produce less cortical arousal (more ERSs) and
sad music to produce more arousal (more ERDs),
especially in posterior parts of the brain (Panksepp
and Bekkedal, 1997). In males this pattern, if
anything, was reversed. However, when we re-
peated this experiment in males with self-selected
music, the changes were robust, and the patterns
were similar to females, with happy music produ-
cing more ERSs (i.e. decreased cortical arousal)
and the sad music producing more ERDs (i.e.
increased cortical arousal). This pattern of results
is reasonable for during a sad emotional state one
has more cognitive issues to dwell on, leading to
cortical desynchronization, than when one is
happy. We saw no clear laterality effects, unlike
those seen for simple repeated tones and melodies
(Breitling et al., 1987) perhaps because the dy-
namic brain changes fluctuate greatly as a function
of time and task (Petsche, 1996).
Of course, the control issues in this type of
research are enormous, with many differences
among the musical selections other than the
affective components. In other words, in selecting
different pieces of music for their emotional
qualities, a host of non-affective acoustic variables
would need to be controlled. One possible way
around this dilemma would be to select a single
powerful musical passage, and attempt to modify
the conveyed affective feelings by such means as
playing the piece backwards or increasing or
decreasing the tempo at which a single passage is
played.
We pursued the latter avenue using the simple
and memorable melody in the first few bars ( /7s)
of Beethoven’s Fu
¨r Elise. This was played at three
speeds, normal as well as sped up and slowed
down by 10%. At least for the senior author of this
paper, speeding up the piece gave it a happier,
almost carnival, type of feeling; slowing it down
made it considerably more melancholic. And these
three renditions produced very different patterns
of ERDs in the first author’s brain (Fig. 5).
Unfortunately, when this was repeated on three
other subjects, all of whom were quite fond of this
piece of music, there were no differences among
the three runs*/all three speeds yielded essentially
the same cerebral patterns */the main effect being
marked frontal arousal on the left side, where
positive emotional effects are commonly observed
(Davidson, 1992). However, it is noteworthy that
none of these individuals reported that the slowing
or speeding of the piece modified their affective
responses, suggesting the distinct cerebral effects
depicted in the subject in Fig. 5 may only be
evident when individuals have different affective
experiences to the same piece of music.
We present these results not with the aim of
trying to share any definitive results regarding how
happy and sad music affects the human brain, but
rather, to highlight the problems that must be
dealt with in this kind of research. The control
issues are, to put it mildly, enormous. This is one
Fig. 5. Averaged event related desynchronization levels for a
subject receiving repeated exposure to the first several bars of
Beethoven’s Fu
¨r Elise at three speeds (normal, 10% slower and
10% faster). Right is right and left is left on the topographic
maps, with the frontal pole oriented toward the top and the
occipital pole to the bottom of the plate.
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155 149
reason good work has been slow to emerge in this
area, but we hope human curiosity will prevail.
10. Promoting health through music
It should come as no surprise that music could
havevarious beneficial health consequences. The
role of emotions in regulating body processes is so
clear, that it would be expected that music would
havevarious tonic effects on the body. The power
of social processes on bodily health have recently
been recognized (Mayer and Saper, 1999), and
since music can stimulate so many social-emo-
tional processes, we might expect music to have
demonstrable effects on health. Of course, the
healing effects of music were recognized even in
Grecian times, where it was employed as a main-
stream psychiatric treatment, and music therapy
and music medicine continue to be lively and
active fields (Pratt and Spintge, 1996; Spintge
and Droh, 1992). Unfortunately, the data base is
not as consistent and robust as one would wish it
to be, and in part this is surely due to the fact that
musical tastes vary so enormously and many of us
are so accustomed to listening to lots of music,
that it is hard to find populations which could be
deemed to be adequate ‘controls’ for music inter-
ventions. For instance, there are good reasons to
believe that music could be used as a mild anti-
depressant (Pratt and Spintge, 1996), but it would
be difficult in present-day society to find a group
of individuals that is not getting any exposure to
music on a fairly regular basis. Would it be
ethically justified to take people off their normal
diets of musical stimulation to evaluate the effi-
cacy of various types of music in the treatment of
depression? One could of course add additional
music to the daily aesthetic menu of clinically
described participants, but the time required might
make compliance problematic. In any event, it will
be a major problem to determine whether any
consistently demonstrable benefits are due to the
music itself or only secondarily due to the specific
affective changes evoked by the music.
Although this is not the place to delve into the
methodological intricacies of evaluating music-
based therapies, we would like to summarize
some of the recent work we have conducted
evaluating the effects of music on the perception
of pain. There is a large literature on such topics,
including our positive results indicating that music
can alleviate pain, stress and feelings of depression
in patients suffering from chronic back pain
(Bernatzky et al., 1999) but no definite overall
conclusion can yet be reached. Indeed, in a large
series of individuals, we determined whether
music-induced analgesia could be evident using
rigorous methodological procedures. No clear
evidence of any analgesia was observed in healthy
people when precisely controlled radiant heat was
the source of pain, and a pain-escape threshold
procedure was used (Bernatzky et al., 1996).
However, this should not be taken to mean that
music cannot provide relief for individuals suffer-
ing from pain or a variety of other negative
feelings. The long term consequences of aversive
emotional states are due more to suffering than the
threshold at which pain is perceived, and it is
reasonable that music might relieve the undesired
stress that many medical patients feel (e.g. Guz-
zetta, 1989). Accordingly, we encourage the con-
duct of well-controlled studies in this area, with a
focus on the emotional suffering rather than
simply the physical aspects of pain.
11. Coda: the future of music research
Although we may never know, with any assur-
ance, the evolutionary and cultural transitions that
led from our acoustic-emotional sensibilities to an
appreciation of music we can now begin to
empirically decode the effects of music on the
brain-mind and body. Investigators are finally
endeavoring to fathom how music establishes
affective resonances within the brain, and we
would suggest that it is within an understanding
of the ingrained emotional processes of the mam-
malian brain that the essential answers to the
affective questions will be found. It is not yet clear
that our brain contain evolved distinct emotional
‘modules’ for the processing of the emotional
aspects of music, but we think that is a remote
possibility. Still, we suspect that the role of
subcortical systems in our sustained human love
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155150
affair with music has been greatly underestimated.
Without the intrinsic ancestral dynamics of these
ancient emotional systems, music may forever
remain affectively flat. We will need much more
work on the neurodynamics of these neural
systems to truly understand how emotions are
elaborated by within the brain (Panksepp, 2000b).
Indeed, there may be formal functional as well
as mathematical relationship between acoustic
dynamics and emotional dynamic, an idea that
convinced Clynes (1990, 1995) to ‘train’ computers
to render classical music electronically better than
ever before (i.e. Superconductor, see http://
www.superconductor.com). His solution to the
‘microstructure’ problem of musical notation has
now provided an invaluable general-purpose tool
for manipulating many relevant acoustic para-
meters individually that will help us experimentally
understand how the affective impact of music is
generated by the modulation of sound. Clynes’s
system can even render classic music as different
composers might have, by having abstracted their
musical ‘personas’ in the ‘pulse’ structure of
performance (Clynes, 1990, 1995). Indeed, there
are now several excellent software programs to
provide flexible synthesis of musical performance
that are invaluable research tools. For the first
time, researchers have orchestras at their fingertips
so they can systematically modify parameters to
systematically evaluate the consequences of musi-
cal dimensions on human affective and aesthetic
experiences. In order to conduct well-controlled
research, we no longer need to restrict ourselves to
readily available but difficult to modify musical
performances generated by the great artists of our
times.
Another reason the study of musical emotional
experience languished for most of the 20th century
is because robust and highly reliable methodolo-
gies for evoking and measuring emotional experi-
ence did not emerge as rapidly as they did for
many other psychological processes. There is
abundant room for improvement (e.g. Asmus,
1985). Emotion research became even more pro-
blematic, as grave ethical issues were raised con-
cerning the propriety of inadvertently evoking
powerful emotions without the full consent of
participants, whether humans or other animals.
This led investigators to study ever milder emo-
tional processes, and thereby perhaps ever milder
cognitive notions of how emotions control human
behavior. Except for the possibility of harvesting
data from individuals who are undergoing real-life
emotional episodes, we are confronted by a con-
undrum of enormous proportions, ranging from
extremely artificial situations that barely arouse
true affect to the problem of unmotivated subjects.
The wider utilization of music in emotion
research could help solve both problems. We,
along with others (Clynes, 1978; Gabrielsson,
1991; Krumhansl, 1997) believe that music can
evoke ‘real’ affective processes, although these are
obviously different from the full-blown emergency
emotional responses that are aroused by situations
such as those that provoke, fear, panic and rage.
Music appears to resonate especially well with
basic socio-emotional feelings (and certainly many
socially constructed ones as well, such as bitters-
weet nostalgia and tenderness), but it may require
some coaching (e.g. encouragement of individuals
to listen in a certain way to get fully into the
moods suggested by the music), with perhaps the
use of associated imagery to recruit deeper affec-
tive structures.
Although music-based mood-induction techni-
ques havebeenavailable for some time, the
amount of research using such techniques has
remained modest. Part of the problem is that
music preferences are highly individualized and
idiosyncratic, and the choice of items may need to
be optimally tailored for each individual. We
recognized this in our first study seeking to
discriminate the effects of happy and sad music
on the human EEG, and the use of the same
standardized pieces across individuals was not
nearly as effective as selecting music with which
the subjects already had deep personal relation-
ships (Panksepp and Bekkedal, 1997). Clearly,
such individualization needs to be considered in
most experimental designs where we aspire to
evoke intense emotional experiences.
Perhaps, the least understood process in music-
emotion research as well as human emotion
research in general is the fundamental nature of
affective experience. Investigators still use emo-
tional terms as if they do not need to be explained
J. Panksepp, G. Bernatzky / Behavioural Processes 60 (2002) 133 /155 151
any farther. As a result, the fundamental nature of
affect remains the most important and the most
unstudied topic that is essential for future progress
in this area of research. Only a few ideas havebeen
placed on the intellectual table so far (Damasio,
1999; Panksepp, 1998a,b). Probably avoidance of
the topic is based on one simple fact */an under-
standing of such deep processes of the inner life
will require brain research into subcortical brain
areas that are typically inaccessible to investigation
in human beings (Panksepp, 2002).
Of course, the amount of emotional research
that could be done with music from the first
person subjective perspective remains enormous.
Such work has great promise not only to clarify
the phenomenology of human emotions but the
nature of music. Since it has generally been
recognized that music is the language of emotions
and it is coming to be recognized that the basic
emotions and motivations may constitute the very
foundation of consciousness (Panksepp, 1998b;
Watt, 1999), music research has a vast potential,
largely untapped, for helping highlight how both
affective and cognitive forms of human conscious-
ness emerge from brain matter. Such investigations
could eventually inform us how music might be
used more effectively in our educational and
therapeutic initiatives. Work on such interesting
problems has barely begun.
Acknowledgements
This work was supported by The Memorial
Foundation for Lost Children (Bowling Green,
OH), the Herbert von Karajan Center (Vienna,
Austria) and Bundesministerium fu
¨r Bildung,
Wisenschaft und Kultur (Vienna, Austria).
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Research in music is a multidisciplinary matter. Experts from very different fields in science report the most recent data from their own research and thereby show today's knowledge concerning music and neuropsychological sciences. This includes the developing and adult brain, neurological and psychiatric diseases as well as the battery of the most recent development in brain imaging techniques. This book offers an excellent introduction to new scientific efforts in understanding both neuronal and psychic mechanisms when listening to or performing music.
Article
A most basic issue in the study of music perception is the question of why humans are motivated to pay attention to, or create, musical messages, and why they respond emotionally to them, when such messages seem to convey no real-time relevant biological information as do speech, animal utterances, and environmental sounds. Expanding on previous work (Roederer, 1979, 1982) three possibly concurrent factors will be examined: (1) The inborn motivation to train language-handling networks of the brain in the processing of simple, organized sound patterns as a prelude to the acquisition of language; (2) The need to extract the information contained in the “musical” components of speech; (3) The value of music as a means of transmitting information on emotional states and its effect in congregating and behaviorally equalizing masses of people. In the discussion, special attention will be paid to the role of motivation and emotion in auditory perception, to the fact that in humans limbic system functions can be activated by internally evoked images in complete detachment from the current state of environment and organism, and to the existence of two distinct strategies of cerebral information processing, namely short-term time sequencing, as required in speech communication and thinking, and holistic pattern recognition, as required in music perception. © 1983, Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Chapter
It has been known for many years that perceptual and emotional musical experiences lead to changes in blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration, the psycho-galvanic reflex, and other autonomic functions. These autonomic changes represent the vegetative reflections of psychological processes. The nature and extent of such somatic changes, and the determining factors has been accurately analyzed by the use of modern recording techniques. This chapter presents marked autonomic changes that occur when a subject is completely involved in the piece of music presented. It is found that when the same piece of music is critically analyzed by the same subject without emotional involvement, these autonomic changes are not demonstrable. The system of maximal response depends mainly on the character of the subject's individual autonomic response. In some persons, psychological stimuli such as stress give rise to respiratory changes predominantly, whereas in others, marked circulatory or galvanic skin response alterations are elicited by the same type of stimuli, and the type of music that is being played.
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There are questions remaining concerning the topics previously tackled and this has been expounded by the Dalai Lama, translated into a comprehensive form by renowned translators. The issues are: the reasons why biobehvioral sciences neglected compassion, how neutral science is perceived to be, whether compassion is innate in human nature, whether we are naturally competitive or cooperative, where this compassion comes from and whether this compassion is fragile, and what the impact of compassion to happiness is and vice versa. It is generally viewed that compassion and science are in a way very contrasting forms, but the Dalai Lama believes that science will continue to evolve and will meet with compassion. He believes that human nature will take the upper hand at any time.