Eyes Wide Shut: Amygdala Mediates Eyes-Closed Effect on Emotional Experience with Music

University of Leuven, Belgium
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 02/2009; 4(7):e6230. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006230
Source: PubMed


The perceived emotional value of stimuli and, as a consequence the subjective emotional experience with them, can be affected by context-dependent styles of processing. Therefore, the investigation of the neural correlates of emotional experience requires accounting for such a variable, a matter of an experimental challenge. Closing the eyes affects the style of attending to auditory stimuli by modifying the perceptual relationship with the environment without changing the stimulus itself. In the current study, we used fMRI to characterize the neural mediators of such modification on the experience of emotionality in music. We assumed that closed eyes position will reveal interplay between different levels of neural processing of emotions. More specifically, we focused on the amygdala as a central node of the limbic system and on its co-activation with the Locus Ceruleus (LC) and Ventral Prefrontal Cortex (VPFC); regions involved in processing of, respectively, 'low', visceral-, and 'high', cognitive-related, values of emotional stimuli. Fifteen healthy subjects listened to negative and neutral music excerpts with eyes closed or open. As expected, behavioral results showed that closing the eyes while listening to emotional music resulted in enhanced rating of emotionality, specifically of negative music. In correspondence, fMRI results showed greater activation in the amygdala when subjects listened to the emotional music with eyes closed relative to eyes open. More so, by using voxel-based correlation and a dynamic causal model analyses we demonstrated that increased amygdala activation to negative music with eyes closed led to increased activations in the LC and VPFC. This finding supports a system-based model of perceived emotionality in which the amygdala has a central role in mediating the effect of context-based processing style by recruiting neural operations involved in both visceral (i.e. 'low') and cognitive (i.e. 'high') related processes of emotions.

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    • "It is generally agreed that music evokes emotions and stimulates physiological and behavioral responses (Habibi and Damasio, 2014). In addition, more recent neuroscience research indicates there are shared neural networks implicated in both emotion and music processing (Blood and Zatorre, 2001;Satoh et al., 2001;Brown et al., 2004;Menon and Levitin, 2005;Baumgartner et al., 2006;Koelsch et al., 2006Koelsch et al., , 2008Bengtsson et al., 2007;Brown and Martinez, 2007;Foss et al., 2007;Kleber et al., 2007;Mitterschiffthaler et al., 2007;Mizuno and Sugishita, 2007;Berkowitz and Ansari, 2008; Limb andBraun, 2008;Lerner et al., 2009), and specifically between music and ER processing (Sena Moore, 2013). There is also evidence to support the developmentally appropriate use of music-based experiences to target ER development in preschoolers because music stimulates physiologic arousal and induces emotions, and assumes a natural role in bonding and social interactions. "
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    • "open state while listening to negative-valence music. This result may stem from participants' experiencing stronger feelings of negative emotion with their eyes closed. This view was supported by participants' evaluation of the emotional stimuli; their experienced emotion valence was more negative when they listened to music with their eyes-closed.Lerner et al. (2009)demonstrated that the eyes-closed state enhanced the negative emotion and arousal level during exposure to affective music, and a greater amygdala response to negative-valence music was found with closed eyes compared to open eyes. They therefore concluded that specific styles of attending can modify the activation of the amygdala in res"
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    • "Visual imagery is considered as one basic emotion-evoking principle during music listening [68] and anatomical studies indicate that auditory core, belt and parabelt regions project to V1 and V2 of the visual cortex, and that neurons in V2 project back into these auditory regions [69]. Note that the eyes-closed requirement of the experimental task used in the present study was motivated by evidence suggesting that affective activity is enhanced when the eyes are closed [70], a condition that practically minimizes any vision-specific sensory contributions to visual cortex activity. Evidence suggesting that the occipital visual cortex is also involved in spatial hearing, in people with normal sight, have also been observed during several different auditory tasks (for details see 71). "
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