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A Preliminary Study Connecting Covid-19 and the influence of Psychoacoustic Therapies Introduction


Abstract and Figures

Playing an instrument and listening to music have been complex processes that are highly coordinated. With advancements in various instrumentations, it has become easier to study the different effects a certain category of music can have on our emotions. Neuroscientists have studied the activation of different areas of the brain in response to music, which includes regions of memory and speech. Studying the effect of music on our mindset clearly states that depending on various cultural aspects and socioeconomic statuses of our life, we choose and perceive music different. Music can thus, condition the brain, proved by differences observed in a musician and non-musicians brain. This particular property of music has been exploited by various therapists for the benefit of mentally challenged people and has been proven to be efficacious as it helps in stimulating different cerebral circuits. The amalgamation of music with neuroscience also brings forward the opportunity to learn music better and in a more neuroscientific way. An extended study on the role of music in dealing with stress in the pandemic year and the outcome of stress on undergraduate students and professors of Mumbai is highlighted in this research study.
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Xplore - The Xavier’s Research Journal. Volume 12, Issue 02, 2021
ISSN 2249 - 1878
*Corresponding author. Email:
A Preliminary Study Connecting Covid-19 and the influence of
Psychoacoustic Therapies
Kyle Meyers*, Neha Kapadia and Moumita Sengupta
Department of Chemistry, St. Xavier's College, 5, Mahapalika Marg, Mumbai, INDIA 400001.
(pp. 1-13)
Abstract :
Playing an instrument and listening to music have been complex processes that are highly coordinated.
With advancements in various instrumentations, it has become easier to study the different effects a
certain category of music can have on our emotions. Neuroscientists have studied the activation of
different areas of the brain in response to music, which includes regions of memory and speech.
Studying the effect of music on our mindset clearly states that depending on various cultural aspects and
socio-economic statuses of our life, we choose and perceive music different. Music can thus, condition
the brain, proved by differences observed in a musician and non-musicians brain. This particular
property of music has been exploited by various therapists for the benefit of mentally challenged people
and has been proven to be efficacious as it helps in stimulating different cerebral circuits. The
amalgamation of music with neuroscience also brings forward the opportunity to learn music better and
in a more neuroscientific way. An extended study on the role of music in dealing with stress in the
pandemic year and the outcome of stress on undergraduate students and professors of Mumbai is
highlighted in this research study.
Keywords: emotional induction, MMN, Chords, f-MRI, motor cortex, therapies, SARS-CoV-2,
“How is it that music can, without words, evoke our
laughter, our fears, our highest aspirations?” Here we
are to answer Jane Swan's question on music. Music
has played a significant role in everyday routine and
much research has been done on how it influences our
mood. Different genres of music have different effects
on our mood. In all forms of art, music has an upper
hand in the expression of emotions. It can stimulate
different processes of cognition and sensorimotor
responses. It is known to stimulate different emotions.
In this review, we will see how music activates different
areas of the brain that are known to stimulate positive
and negative valence emotions. The study also talks
about the differences in vocal and tonal sensory stimuli
as speech and music have subtle differences in the
areas of the brain that are activated via them. It is
interesting to know that changes in pitch, tone, or other
modalities of music play a key role in event-related
potentials (ERPs) and hence, music is comprehended
as different (Hackley, 1993). Different forms of music
activate different areas of the brain as recorded by
fMRI (Buchanan, 2000) and EEG (Bush, 2000). For
example, the amygdala would be activated with songs
having an emotional connect. Similarly, other areas of
the brain like the nucleus accumbens and the
cerebellum can be stimulated. Having learned about
how music influences our neuronal networks, it is
important to know how these properties are being
exploited in many fields such as therapies,
rehabilitation, etc. Music is also used as a platform for
better learning of activities related to working memory.
Thus, music not only evokes the aesthetics of
emotions but is also greatly applied to different areas
of learning around the globe.
Music evoking emotions:
Music is the only universal language that has the
potential to connect people from all walks of life to
come together and feel the emotion of a certain piece.
Having said that, there are many universal features of
emotion in music (Bornstein, 1990). Firstly, General
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acoustic music is connected to calmness. This
includes music with major tonalities or complementing
harmonies or smooth and consistent rhythms. In the
second place, fast playing music/songs with higher
tempo (beats per minute) and upbeat songs are
known to evoke high arousal emotions. Fast tempo
songs are known to represent amusement along with
clashing harmonies. Lastly, high-intensity music with
rough, irregular rhythms is known to induce a feeling of
anger. However, culture general cues allow an
individual to identify certain emotions more accurately
than other people (Farah, 1988). This means, that an
Indian can express and interpret an Indian classical
culture-based musical piece better than a Western
classical piece and vice-versa (Swaminathan, 2015).
Many such studies have been conducted.
Music can be inferred to have an expressive base over
a cognitive one. This takes place through a process
called 'emotion induction'. Although emotions are
induced by music, it is very difficult to know how long
they can last. Emotion induction can be through any of
the six following ways: -
1. Brain-stem reflexes: Causes arousals by sudden
sounds or changes in pitch or tone. These are a
result of a change in tempo that sends a 'danger'
signal to the brain.
2. Evaluative Conditioning: This happens because
of the reward stimulus. The brain remembers the
sound that had led to the activation of reward
pathways and conditions a person to evaluate
music based on that. Thus, when one listens to a
song that belongs to a particular genre a person is
fond of, the brain immediately reacts positively to it.
3. Emotional Contagion: This is the mimicking of
music in which an individual develops a liking to
identical musical pieces (lacoboni, 2009). Mirror
neurons play a very important role in this
whereupon when we see someone play or listen to
a certain musical piece, we are encouraged to
listen or imitate the playing of the same piece
(Hatfield, 1993).
4. Visual imagery: A piece that allows one to
imagine something visual, like the sound of
thunder or rain is known to stimulate emotions.
This happens as a result of visually-stimulated
emotions. Rain and nature have been long studied
as being visual stimuli that provoke strong effective
emotions. Thus, music that provides the imagery
helps one feel the same composure (Farah, 1988).
5. Associations with episodic memories: Long
term memory as stored in one's mind related to an
event is what gives rise to nostalgia (Tulving,
Episodic Memory: From Mind to Brain, 2002). A
piece that correlates with an event of the past can
evoke stronger emotions than others of the same
genre and pitch. These pieces play a key role in
neuro aesthetics (Tulving, Episodic and Semantic
Memory, 1986).
6. Violation or fulfillment of expectations: Musical
pieces have an extra pleasurable effect when it has
an element of surprise or tension in it. Researchers
suggest that the main reason why we enjoy music
is that we are scared of the unknown modalities
that accompany the musical piece. A sudden
change in the intensity of music gives us chills and
these are pleasurable. The fear of the unknown
has always been an element of thrill in humans and
music impresses one on this. Sometimes, a piece
may also turn out exactly how one had
comprehended it to be and thus, provides a feeling
of satisfaction (Pearce, 2012).
The four basic emotions of fear, sadness, happiness,
and disgust can be very well induced by music. Happy
music is known to be responsible for wonder,
transcendence, tenderness, and joy. A person's
personal favorites are the feelings of awe, nostalgia,
and enjoyment which leads to chills in many cases.
Happy music induces a change in reward pathways
and one involuntarily moves to such music
(Mitterschiffthaler, 2007).
One of the most interesting facts is how people report
pleasure related to sad music. Along with pleasure,
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physiological changes like an increase in heart rate
and dilation of pupils have been observed. Sad music
is connected to nostalgia, a feeling of composure over
and above the sadness as expressed by the musical
piece. Experiences of chill, shivers, and piloerection
are common. These, in reality, are autonomous fight
responses. A sudden change in tone or pitch of a piece
leads to violation of expectations and this is seen as a
danger to the person and hence, 'chills' are observed
(Panksepp J., 1995). How can these chills be
en joya b le? This has b een explai ned b y a
phenomenon called 'contrastive valence' (Pearce,
2012). This talks about how a novel stimulus is liked
because of an intensified stimulus-response. This
stimulus-response is generally a positive appraisal
which somehow could trigger the firing of reward
pathways. It is exactly how we know of illusions but still
gets illuded because of motor reflexes. Sad music is
also known to induce prolactin production which
provides feelings of comfort and consolation.
Depressed people are inclined to such songs that help
them neutralize the negative effect of emotions
(Mitterschiffthaler, 2007).
Some pieces are known to induce mixed emotions
although no physical experiments could be conducted
to prove so. It would be rather complicated to study so
many different neuronal networks and activations and
work them out accurately. This has led to different
musical preferences in different groups. It is based on
the intensity of enjoyment. There is a gap between the
emotion that music expresses and the emotion that is
felt. This leads to contrasting results in fMRI studies
(Buchanan, 2000).
Adults prefer pleasant music while children are fond of
high arousing music as they understand fear and
happiness better. Extroverts are inclined towards
upbeat music and introverts mostly listen to a variety of
genres ranging from jazz to classical. Depressed
people are known to be fond of sad music as this is
what helps them release their dopamine and
serotonin. However, it also depends on reward-circuit
exposures in childhood or an event. The 'Mere
exposure effect' suggests that a person can develop a
liking to a certain type of music simply because the
person was exposed to it more often (Zajonc, 2006)
(Gordon, 1983). On the contrary, overexposure to a
piece can lead to a decrease in its liking. This is caused
by the 'Boredom effect' when a person already knows
how the song is supposed to move and there are no
anticipations left and the piece fails to trigger nostalgic
awe (Bornstein, 1990). Priority also depends on the
temperament. Everyone has different wiring of the
limbic system and this causes differences in the way
the music is perceived (Molnar-Szakacs, 2006). The
liking takes time to develop as it takes time to form
neural wirings after a stimulus is processed. The
listener needs to concentrate on the musical piece to
appreciate and judge the piece. However, MMN
studies have shown how even if one is not focusing on
the auditory stimuli, one can detect changes in pitch
and tones (Tervaniemi, 2003). This is merely an
instinctive factor over the limbic processing.
Experiments to study the correlation of music to
Brain studies are done by either direct methods like
EEG (electroencephalograph), ERPs (Event-Related
potentials), and MEG(Magneto-encephalography) or
by indirect methods like fMRI or rCBF (Cerebrum
blood flow). Auditory studies are mainly done by MMN
or Mismatch Negativity. MMN is a negative component
of event-related response in EEG due to auditory
stimulation. MMN occurs after infrequent changes in
repetitive sequences of sound. MMN shows how even
when we perform a task unrelated to sounds, the
auditory cortex can precisely detect changes in the
acoustic environment (Näätänen, 2007). It captures
two repetitive sound patterns and is an accurate study
tool for music which has patterns in it in regular
intervals. Where MMN is known for electric impulse
records, fMRI is a widely used technique that involves
changing detection by blood flow. It relies on the fact
that when a part of the brain undergoes neural
interactions, the blood flow in the area increases
which can be recorded by magnetic imaging. This is
because that part of the brain that is 'activated' will
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require energy that it receives from the blood. Most of
the studies to find which area of the brain performs a
certain function has been done by fMRI. BOLD (Blood
oxygen level imaging) is used during experiments.
This again is not all the accurate way of studying but
one of the most widely used method. Gamma
frequency band studies yield evidence of brain
plasticity by gamma activation. This is not widely used
as the use of ionization radiations is not highly advised
(Tervaniemi, 2003).
In an experiment where the pitch was changed by
2.5%, 5%, and 10% at 500Hz facilitated by harmonic
partials, pitch discrimination was detected by MMN.
Albo et al. pioneered for cortical generators of MMN in
which they used occasional pitch change in musical
pieces(G4-A4) in different contexts such as single
tones, parallel chords, and sequential chord patterns.
MMN was more medial for sequential and parallel
chords compared to single chords. Changes in ERPs
are widely used for studies in children where they
show a positive peak at 250ms for repeated sounds
with acoustical properties, similar to lullabies. This
suggests how a person can make out subtle changes
in the tones and chords of a musical piece without
having to completely concentrate on it, suggesting that
musical processing is an involuntar y action
(Tervaniemi, 2003).
In one of the studies, the use of pleasant and
unpleasant music was done to evoke emotions, and
fMRI studies were used to prove it. 11 non-musicians
had participated and the stimuli provided were 8
excerpts of upbeat instrumental tunes alternated with
unpleasant tunes made by two pitch shifts in the same
tune (Buchanan, 2000). This made sure that the
dynamic outline and rhythm were identical making it
impossible for the processing of stimulus to affect
brain activation. The participants were subjected to
pleasant and unpleasant excerpts alternately and a
small interval of no music. fMRI was used via a
scanner which was acoustically shielded. LIPSIA
software was used and a t-test was done (Lohmann,
2001). Now, through fMRI recorded as per the
software, unpleasant music showed increased CBF in
the left hippocampus, Parahippocampal gyrus, right
temporal poles, and the amygdala. A decrease in CBF
was noticed during pleasant music. For pleasant
music, activation was seen in Heschl's gyrus, anterior
superior insula, and left interior frontal gyrus.
In a different setup, non-musicians were subjected to
the listening of 20 pieces alternating between 30s
epochs of emotional and 30s epochs of neutral stimuli.
The MRI system used was the same as before and
MATLAB was used as the software to interpret results
(Chao gan, 2010). To confirm the activations found in
the ventral striatum and right hippocampus and
amygdala, volume-of-interest analyses were done
using the VOI toolkit. Happy music was seen to
activate the left superior frontal gyrus, left medial
frontal gyrus, left ACC, bilateral primary auditory
cortex, bilateral ventral striatum, left nucleus caudate,
left Parahippocampal gyrus, and left precuneus. Sad
music was seen to increase CBF in the left medial
frontal gyrus, left posterior cingulate gyrus, bilaterally
in primary auditory cortex, right hippocampus,
amygdala, and left cerebellum. Neutral music
influenced the left insula. In a follow-up study, it was
seen that if one started with happy music, the ratings
were more pronounced compared to others (Koelsch,
How do we know the activations induced
Evolutionary studies had already proved the limbic
system to be responsible for emotions. A temporal
lobectomy in primates was seen to cause a decrease
in perceived emotions. Studies on animals were done
using electrodes, later developed as EEG and MRI
(Bush, 2000). Different areas of emotion were
observed by triggers provided as stimuli and BOLD/
imaging responses were recorded. Many of these
studies were done by lesions in specific areas of the
brain. The limbic system operated by influencing the
endocrine system and ANS and activating reward
pathways in most cases. It is closely associated with
the prefrontal cortex and interacts heavily with the
cerebral cortex. Some of the prominent structures of
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the system are the cingulate cortex, amygdala, and the
hypothalamus (not necessarily a part of the limbic
system). Amygdala is the most important part of the
limbic system to be associated with emotions.
Hippocampus is unique in its emotional activity in that
it only gets activated by music-evoked emotions and
helps in the memory of long-sequenced musical
pieces. The ventral striatum is significant for what is
known as the reward pathway. These are pathways
that have neuromodulators like dopamine or serotonin
that give a sense of pleasure, arousal, and motivation
to the body. Dorsal striatum and substantia nigra are
major areas of dopamine release for dopaminergic
actions. Thus, the limbic system greatly contributes to
emotions (Maclean, 1955).
Amygdala has been found to induce negative
emotions and fear. It has also been found out that the
amygdala is not related to positive emotions like
happiness, joy, etc. as per the experiments briefly
mentioned above, it has been seen that the amygdala
gets activated by sad music. Sad emotions with a slow
minor are induced by the left medial frontal gyrus and
posterior cingulate gyrus. These areas are also seen
to be activated by the aesthetic judgment of pictures.
The right temporal pole is linked to socioemotional
fear. MANOVA studies done showing how the
Heschl's gyrus contributed to the happiness in
comparison to sadness (Damasio, 1998)'' (Panksepp
J. , A Critical Role for Affective Neuroscience in
Resolving What Is Basic about Basic Emotions.,
1992). The anterior cingulate cortex activates positive
valence emotions similar to the left precuneus and the
nucleus caudate. All of these results are in line with the
experiments mentioned above wherein parts of the
limbic system and closely associated areas were
shown to be activated by music. Many of these areas
are not considered in activating emotions as such but
play an important role in the way music is processed in
the brain. The Broca's area and the Wernicke's area
are areas of the working memory of language. It has
been noticed that these areas get equally activated by
music. These results show how music has
phonological processing besides auditory and
emotional processing. The chills as seen, are known
to be caused by excessive dopamine release in these
reward pathways. Chills are seen to be related to an
increase in rCBF in the amygdala, hippocampus, and
ventral medial prefrontal cortex (Panksepp J. ,
Emotions as Viewed by Psychoanalysis and
Neuroscience: An Exercise in Consilience, 1999).
Arousing music induces dopamine release in the left
parahippocampal gyrus. These results account for
how a sudden change of pitch or tone can induce the
emotion of fear in a person. This negative emotion of
fear is processed as being pleasurable by the
contrastive valence where the brain is 'awed' by the
violation of the expectations. For visual aesthetics,
beauty judgments are known to be made in the
dorsolateral frontal and orbitofrontal cortex (Brattico,
2018). These areas are also seen to be activated by
aesthet ic music. Con son ant chords ac tiv ate
dorsome dia l midbrain nu clei that belong to
dopaminergic reward circuits. It was seen that music
activated the limbic system and closely associated
parts of the brain in the same way as emotions
perceived (Damasio, 1998) (Olson, 2007). The above
experiments were seen to be in sync with these
results. Thus, music can be seen as a reward stimulus.
It activates the reward pathways of dopamine,
serotonin, and endorphins and also induces activation
of other parts related to negative valence emotions.
Music conditioning brain:
Changes in a musician's brain have been observed
since the 1900s (Sergent, 1999). The enlarged
auditory cortex, cerebellum, and sensorimotor cortex
have been reported. The motor cortex plays a very
important role. The M1 area helps in skill learning and
musicians exploit its property. There are differences
between verbal and tonal working memory of all
individuals, but specifically in the musicians and their
tonal working memory is stronger than the verbal
working memory. Some overlaps in the areas of
musician's and non-musicians' brains are seen in
areas like Broca's area and premotor cortex.
Functional plasticity is induced by musical training.
Regardless of this, independent working memory for
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verbal and tonal stimuli are known to exist. Musical
training also increases verbal working memory
performance. Non-musicians show activation of
supramarginal gyrus, SPL, premotor regions of
Broca's area, and cerebral regions during a pitch
memory task. Musicians recruited exclusive structures
for either verbal or tonal working memory like left
cuneus, right globus pallidus, and caudate nucleus,
and right insular cortex. There was a certain extent of
overlap but they still relied on different neural
subcomponents. Although there is no strong empirical
proof to it, it is known that non-musicians make use of
their right hemisphere for the processing of melody
and harmony. Musicians were shown to have a larger
anterior half of the corpus callosum due to string co-
ordination. Auditory brain waves are 102% larger in
professional musicians. There is a 130% more amount
of grey matter in the auditory cortex of musicians
(Pascual-Leone, 2001).
These changes are because of different verbal and
tonal working memory (Besson, 2003). The working
memory is associated with temporary storage and
manipulation of information for planning, problem-
solving, etc. The verbal information is generally
processed as a phonological loop in two ways: passive
storage and active rehearsal mechanism. Tonal
information was strongly intervened by phonemes as
well. Language and music are known to be similar in
more than one way. They not only have a similar touch
of rhythm and similar processing areas but also can be
internally generated etc. Since speech is a
fundamental human skill, non-musicians are trained
better in processing and producing speech as they do
not have to stress these areas in the music domain.
Sensorimotor integration plays an important role in
Music like language allows intimate coupling of
emotion with a motor action. We dance involuntarily to
musical pieces and we move our mouths and larynx to
sing. Thus, music triggers the motor system of the
body. The brain is fond of patterns and music has
hierarchical levels of patterns in the form of rhythms,
tones, chords. Musicians have been shown to have
patterns in the neuronal wiring of the auditory cortex.
Learning of music in neuroscientific ways:
In learning of music, many neuroscientific ways have
been suggested. The most common way of learning is
sensing the stimuli, integrating it, and then acting it out.
Branches to this basic learning flow have proven
helpful. Active learning is much more helpful. It is
better to hand over instruments from an earlier stage to
explore rather than just see someone play it correctly.
This helps in setting up audio-motor networks. We feel
good when we learn. This feeling of success comes
from reward pathways in our brain that are activated
releasing serotonin and dopamine. In this way, the
brain rewards itself and we feel satisfied. A personal
touch to any field makes it more meaningful for the
learner. Starting with a piece that one relates to or is
fond of sets a positive environment of learning.
Learning leads to plasticity. Rewiring of neurons takes
place when one learns something new. New neuronal
connections are formed on new learning that is stored
as short-term memory to proceed to long-term
memory. In the same way, when neurons are not used
for long, they have pruned away. This is known as
neural pruning. Synapses that are not used or the
acti vities not done be come weak and with
conformational changes are made to be pruned not to
be in use anymore. Synapses reinforced through
usage become stronger. Thus, continuous practice is
very important. On the other hand, stronger
connections lead to a decrease in sensitivity of
changes in learners. Thus, it is important that with the
practice, the learner is exposed to newer pieces and
tones and chords to retain the sensitivity to all forms of
music. Brain changes rapidly in childhood and hence
childhood is the optimal period for learning music
efficiently. Mirror neurons fire when we see someone
perform and later, we try to mimic the same setting,
and thus, imitation plays an important role in learning.
It is, therefore, important to attend some events or
observe professional performing to get an idea of their
hand movements, vocal adjustments, etc. An artist can
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hear, see, feel, and move to a rhythm. A learner should
always try to provoke all these senses to learn as
learning is multisensory. The more stimuli the brain
receives for action, the better is the memory stored
and the motor worked. These are the neuroscientific
ways in which a professional music teacher helps
students learn music (Hodges, 2009).
Uses of music in various fields:
As we have seen now, music is known to stimulate
complex cognitive, affective, and sensorimotor
processes in the brain which can be well exploited for
therapies. Pleasant stimuli can have an organizing
function in the perceptual and analytical working of the
brain. It releases serotonin making it easier to maintain
the body calmly and hence, the brain can organize
information (Watson, 2010). Music acts as a mediating
stimulus under its structural organization and engages
in behavioral functions and modulating perception,
attention, etc. The rhythmic entrainment of motor
functions helps in the recovery of other motor activities
like movement in patients with stroke, paralysis,
Parkinson's disease, palsy, and injuries. Rhythmic
sounds act like 'timers' given their patterns and help in
the coordination of homeostatic cycles. Music
therapies are actively used for the recovery of speech
as music's strong-timing mechanisms win over
speech centers. Music's temporal-based grammar
helps in information processing as done in the
hippocampus. As music has sequences, neural
movement helps in preventing bradykinesia and
freezing of movement in Parkinson's patients. Music
enhances 'chunking', a short-term memory element,
and thus induces memory storage in cases of memory
loss in individuals. The memory retrieval is also
triggered by the fact that music helps to access
prefrontal and amygdaloid networks and thus,
accessing memory (Wheeler, 2015).
Expertise in the field of music can also increase
behavioral performances and increases one's ability in
reasoning and logic. These do not have a very strong
empirical basis to it but it is hypothesized that since
music activates the hippocampus and other areas
related to memory, it helps in information retrieval
(Schulze, 2012). Also, music by emotional induction
stimulates short-term memory and episodic memory,
making it easier to recall things. Since musical training
involves simultaneous activation of many sensory and
motor networks, musical expertise is known to modify
the perception of many modalities like auditory, visual,
and somatosensory. This hypothesis was tested by
using MMN and gamma activations which showed
how musicians could perceive and act on tasks better
than non-musicians' (LEtoile, 2002). Training greatly
enhances the perception of melodies. In a study where
participants were made to listen to a melody of
complex sounds with the absence of fundamental
frequency, non-musicians could not perceive the
virtual melody.
Musicians show a stronger activation of areas of
language in the brain like Broca's and Wernicke's
areas (Moreno, 2009). Both language and music are
based on four fundamental parameters: F0, spectral
characteristics, intensity, and duration. Hypotheses
suggest that musical expertise increases sensitivity to
music and speech known as the 'prosody-melody'
effect (Buchanan, 2000). Since musicians have a
sense of emotions as expressed by musical tones and
intensity, musicians are better at detecting emotions.
(Forgeard, 2008) Musicians were found to be better at
processing musical and linguistic phrases that were
presented. It was found that musical training is better
at enhancing prosody than painting training. The
planum temporale, the area associated with verbal
memory, is seen to be larger and more activated in
musicians. Since music deals with phonemes better
than language, dyslexic children are trained in music
to recognize phonological loops and similar-sounding
words. All of this suggests how music can be exploited
as a speech therapy tool and has a wider potential in
various other fields (Raglio, 2015).
Role of Music in the COVID-19 Pandemic:
A study conducted by us puts forward the exertion of
the neurological symptoms associated with SARS-
CoV-2 emphasizing majorly the role music has
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played in regulating our moods, thus encompassing
depression and anxiety. The Stress Scale was
accepted and validated in population samples from
Mumbai. A survey questionnaire was drafted based on
a five-point Likert scale to understand the usefulness
of binge-eating and dealing with stress. As Likert
Scale items have the inherent advantage of not
expecting a simple yes / no answer from the
respondent, but rather allow for degrees of opinion,
and even no opinion at all (Marazban S. Kotwal, 2020)
(A., 1997) (Burns, 1997). The format used for the
questionnaire had 5 Likert items, and was scaled from
1 to 5 as follows:
1. Strongly agree
2. Agree
3. Neither agree nor disagree
4. Disagree
5. Strongly disagree
From 794 responses collected, some invalid and
random responses were deleted and a total of 601
valid responses were analysed in this study. The
participants were required to answer all the questions
to forge ahead through the questionnaire. Out of the
total participants that answered the questionnaire,
58.7% were attempted by females while 41.3% were
males, with a combined mean age of 44 years, the
following results were obtained.
From the evaluated psychiatric symptoms frequency
for all the respondents, following general areas, a
higher proportion of the people (n= 501, 83%) logged
in with excessive levels of stress, the high levels of
anxiety were found in 73% (n=437) of the people, while
36% (n=216) of the respondents revealed that they
suffered from depressive symptoms as can be seen in
fig. 1.
Mass fear of Covid-19, termed as “Coronaphobia”, has
engendered a surfeit of psychiatric manifestations
across the different spheres of society. The forced
quarantine, nationwide lockdowns, and chances of
being infected by SARS-CoV-2 can produce acute
panic anxiety, obsessive behaviours, depression, and
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the long run.
According to our study, some of the most common
causes of stress to students, professionals and
individuals of various walks of life included
assignments and studies for students, work from
home deadlines, health issues, finances, employment
criteria, social media, and relations with significant
relatives and friends. Fig. 2 shows the frequency of
such stress causing factors amongst our population
under study.
According to the survey reports people used various
methods to mitigate their stress levels.
Fig. 1: Percentage of the frequency of psychiatric symptoms among the communities
Stress Anxiety Depression
Percentage of Peoples selection
Psychological Disorders
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From the evaluated frequency (fig. 3) for mitigating the
stress factors of all the respondents, the highest
proportion of the population used music (n = 255;
42.43%). Meditation (n = 72; 11.98%) and Yoga (n =
45; 7.49%) were the least opted methods.
Limitations of the Study:
Th is stu dy was based on se l f-ass essme n t
questionnaires, so there is a possibility of biased
results. The participants who indicated or expressed
anxiety, psychological distress, or strain were not
clinically examined to affirm their diagnosis.
Discussion and Results:
Although much research has been done to show how
many areas of the limbic system are activated by
music, these studies have their limitations. There is a
considerable difference between the emotion that an
artist wants to express through his musical piece and
the emotion that is evoked in the listener. Hence, there
are errors in the rating of music and the emotion felt
Fig. 2: The frequency of stress causing factors among the population under study.
Fig. 3: Frequency of methods opted to mitigate stress.
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Xplore - The Xavier’s Research Journal. Volume 12, Issue 02, 2021 (pp. 1-13) 10
by the participant, and the emotion recorded by
In the experiments seen above, we can see
discrepancies in the selection of the population.
Wherein one study, the participants were selected as
per their right/left-handedness, the age groups, their
mental conditions, etc. we're not thoroughly checked
which could lead to deviations in the results. However,
these errors were taken care of by statistical t-tests
that were done. The second experiment run by Martina
et al. had a better build-up as it used more
sophisticated software, toolkits, and statistically
corrected their data (Mitterschiffthaler, 2007). In
imaging studies, music was seen to activate the same
areas as activated by emotions perceived and felt but
this could be also a result of memory integration,
changes in pitch, chords, etc. as shown by MMN
studies and not merely due to the emotions evoked.
Some of these results are general hypotheses.
Concerning music learning, hypotheses on a
musician's brain have been made which may not be
true for a whole population. Studies in children and
adults show discrepancies in results which shows how
music is not innately processed in all cases and that
the active cognition of a person greatly influences the
perception of music. It is also very difficult to evoke
positive valence emotions and hence, to undertake an
experiment that deals with happy or pleasant music
have variations in the very stimulus that is provided
leading to discrepancies in results. Keeping all this in
mind, one should not forget that music still plays a key
role in our daily lives in learning and adapting to
schedules and has been widely used in various fields
as a method of living a new life. Music has given
words to dyslexic children, the movement to paralyzed
patients, visual imagery to blind people, and words to
patients with speech problems. The mechanisms of
this may not be fully understood by all studies but the
results have been effective. Music is multi-sensory
and studies on it have a wide prospect with an
increase in the use of advanced technology to study
different neuronal connections and pathways
generated which as of now, remain a thing of mystery.
It is of great interest that rehabilitation centers hold an
hour-long session of music just to let the people feel
calm and composed and shows how music can be
widely used in many fields of psychiatry and
psychology as a 'non-chemical anecdote'. (Wu, 2016)
Thus, the Pandemic year brought in a lot of stress
amongst populations globally, and particularly to the
students and professors of Mumbai (as evaluated in
this survey). But Music continues to remain the most
important de-stresser, from prior to post COVID – 19
times. With increased availability of Music on sources
like YouTube, Spotify, JioSavaan, Amazon Music, etc.
music of different genre are now available to people
with varying choices. From the studies made through
comparing the various music therapies and the use of
psychoacoustics in dealing with various psychological
criteria, it can only be understood that people
predominantly find music as a refreshing source of
peace and mind calmness. Through the integration of
neuroscience and the emotional connect between
music and social life, music acts as a mediating
stimulus under its structural organization and engages
in behavioral functions and modulating perception,
attention, etc.
The pandemic year has seen a major spike in the need
for psychological treatment, however not everyone
can avail to it. For various cultural reasons and
sometimes due to economic reasons individuals
refrain from psychological consultation. To conclude,
music has always played an integral role in our
daily lives and shall form a stronger base in society
once all of its potentials can be exploited properly with
the help of neuroscientific studies, - it can thus be used
by each and every individual to self-treat psychological
issues without major medical investments. Completely
ignoring medical consultation can be a harm, but
acoustic therapies via podcasts and other means like
YouTube could be used to help larger masses of
As rightly said by T.S. Elliot,
'You are the music, while the music lasts.’
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Reports 2 experiments that examined the generalization of the "mere exposure" effect. Both experiments demonstrated that positive affect, produced by repeated viewing of a set of stimuli, generalizes to previously unseen stimuli that are similar to the exposed stimuli along certain abstract dimensions. Exp I, with 82 Ss, used letter strings constructed according to a complex rule system. Positive affect attributable to exposure generalized to novel letter strings that obeyed the rule system. Affective generalization was related to Ss' judgments of whether the novel strings obeyed the rule system. Exp II (40 Ss), in which the stimuli were complex visual patterns created by distorting standard forms, yielded an orderly gradient of affective generalization to novel patterns at varying levels of distortion. Results indicate that the exposure effect behaves in a manner similar to "implicit" concept learning and rule induction. The generalization techniques developed here provide a novel method for studying the affective processing of stimuli. (19 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Three experiments investigating the role of boredom as a limiting condition on R. B. Zajonc's (1968) mere exposure effect are described. In Experiment 1, non-boredom-prone Ss showed significant exposure effects for Welsh figure stimuli, whereas boredom-prone Ss showed no exposure effects at all for these stimuli. In Experiments 2 and 3, complex stimuli (line-drawn optical illusions) produced significantly stronger exposure effects than relatively simple stimuli (Welsh figures). The difference in affect ratings for optical illusion vs. Welsh figure stimuli was greater when Ss rated both types of stimuli (Experiment 2) than when Ss rated only 1 type of stimulus (Experiment 3). Furthermore, Welsh figures showed a decline in affect ratings with increasing exposure frequency in Experiment 2 and an increase in affect ratings with increasing exposure frequency in Experiment 3, suggesting that stimulus "contrast" effects are important in determining affect judgments in mere exposure experiments. Results support the role of boredom as a limiting condition on the mere exposure effect and are consistent with a 2-factor learning-satiation model of the exposure effect. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)