Superior Analgesic Effect of an Active Distraction versus Pleasant Unfamiliar Sounds and Music: The Influence of Emotion and Cognitive Style

Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 01/2012; 7(1):e29397. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029397
Source: PubMed


Listening to music has been found to reduce acute and chronic pain. The underlying mechanisms are poorly understood; however, emotion and cognitive mechanisms have been suggested to influence the analgesic effect of music. In this study we investigated the influence of familiarity, emotional and cognitive features, and cognitive style on music-induced analgesia. Forty-eight healthy participants were divided into three groups (empathizers, systemizers and balanced) and received acute pain induced by heat while listening to different sounds. Participants listened to unfamiliar Mozart music rated with high valence and low arousal, unfamiliar environmental sounds with similar valence and arousal as the music, an active distraction task (mental arithmetic) and a control, and rated the pain. Data showed that the active distraction led to significantly less pain than did the music or sounds. Both unfamiliar music and sounds reduced pain significantly when compared to the control condition; however, music was no more effective than sound to reduce pain. Furthermore, we found correlations between pain and emotion ratings. Finally, systemizers reported less pain during the mental arithmetic compared with the other two groups. These findings suggest that familiarity may be key in the influence of the cognitive and emotional mechanisms of music-induced analgesia, and that cognitive styles may influence pain perception.

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    • "The non-musical sound samples consisted of alternating, frequency-filtered noise clips that were chosen based on studies where participants perceived filtered noise to be less distressing than white noise [33], [34]. During Session 2, all participants chose the song they wanted to listen to during the pain trials prior to their first exposure to audio. "
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    • "Previous research reported a positive association between bilingualism and verbal and non-verbal intelligence (Peal and Lambert, 1962), problemsolving skills (Bialystok, 1999; Bialystok and Shapero, 2005), phonological memory (Service, 1992; Cheung, 1996), and working memory (WM) capacity in attention-impeding tasks (Yang et al., 2005). Similarly, musical aptitude has been related to enhanced cognitive abilities (Draper and Gayle, 1987; Milovanov et al., 2008), such as general intelligence (Schellenberg, 2004), verbal memory (Brandler and Rammsayer, 2003), and to the enhanced processing of acoustic features embedded in complex musical contexts (Kraus and Chandrasekaran, 2010; Garza Villarreal et al., 2012; Vuust et al., 2012). More recently, attention has been drawn to the association between musical aptitude and L2 learning (Milovanov and Tervaniemi, 2011). "
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