Acoustic Intensity Causes Perceived Changes in Arousal Levels in Music: An Experimental Investigation

University of Regensburg, Germany
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 04/2011; 6(4):e18591. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018591
Source: PubMed


Listener perceptions of changes in the arousal expressed by classical music have been found to correlate with changes in sound intensity/loudness over time. This study manipulated the intensity profiles of different pieces of music in order to test the causal nature of this relationship. Listeners (N = 38) continuously rated their perceptions of the arousal expressed by each piece. An extract from Dvorak's Slavonic Dance Opus 46 No 1 was used to create a variant in which the direction of change in intensity was inverted, while other features were retained. Even though it was only intensity that was inverted, perceived arousal was also inverted. The original intensity profile was also superimposed on three new pieces of music. The time variation in the perceived arousal of all pieces was similar to their intensity profile. Time series analyses revealed that intensity variation was a major influence on the arousal perception in all pieces, in spite of their stylistic diversity.

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    • "In auditory perception research, continuous responses have been used to investigate relationships between acoustic properties such as intensity, spectral fl atness (a global parameter of timbre), the perception of affect (e.g., emotional arousal and valence/pleasantness), and loudness. Such studies have been undertaken in contexts ranging from traffi c noise [39] to music from classical [40] [41] [42] and electroacoustic [43] [44] genres. Only a handful of experiments, however, have systematically manipulated increases and decreases of acoustic intensity when measuring loudness continuously. "
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    ABSTRACT: In real-world listening domains such as speech and music, acoustic intensity and perceived loudness are dynamic and continuously changing through time. The percept of loudness change in response to continuous increases (up-ramps) and decreases (down-ramps) of intensity has received ongoing empirical and theoretical interest, the result of which has led to conflicting findings from a range of key paradigms. Therefore, the aim of this brief review is to: (a) describe key paradigms used to measure changes in loudness in response to continuous intensity change; (b) identify methodological issues associated with each paradigm; and (c) discuss the mechanisms proposed to explain differences in loudness change when methodological constraints and response biases are controlled. It is concluded that direct and indirect measures of loudness change reflect two distinct aspects of auditory perception. Specifically, magnitude estimation and continuous loudness paradigms reflect changes in perception associated with a ramp’s direction and magnitude of intensity change, and empirical evidence supports the conclusion that greater loudness change in response to down-ramps relative to up-ramps is the real-time perceptual outcome. On the other hand, retrospective global judgements of loudness change are disproportionally weighted on end-level intensity rather than magnitude of intensity change. However, an up-ramp-specific effect of duration on global loudness change is evident when end-level response bias is controlled, and this may be associated with end-point time-of-arrival responses to real and apparent looming auditory motion.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Acoustics Australia / Australian Acoustical Society
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    • "Abbreviations: ACC, anterior cingulate cortex; BOLD, blood-oxygenlevel dependent; EEG, electroencephalogram; SPL, sound pressure level; TANCOVA, topographic analysis of covariance; TANOVA, topographic analysis of variance. Neuroscience 268 (2014) 102–111 to make connections with psychoacoustic parameters such as sound intensity (Dean et al., 2011; Mikutta et al., 2013) and timbre (Frego, 1999). Additional factors include tempo (Nyklicek et al., 1997; Frego, 1999), rhythm (Bernardi et al., 2006; Mikutta et al., 2013), and expectation (Koelsch et al., 2002, 2007, 2008; Maidhof et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Experience-based adaptation of emotional responses is an important faculty for cognitive and emotional functioning. Professional musicians represent an ideal model in which to elicit experience-driven changes in the emotional processing domain. The changes of the central representation of emotional arousal due to musical expertise are still largely unknown. The aim of the present study was to investigate the electroencephalogram (EEG) correlates of experience-driven changes in the domain of emotional arousal. Therefore, the differences in perceived (subjective arousal via ratings) and physiologically measured (EEG) arousal between amateur and professional musicians were examined. A total of 15 professional and 19 amateur musicians listened to the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's 5th symphony (duration=∼7.4 min), during which a continuous 76-channel EEG was recorded. In a second session, the participants evaluated their emotional arousal during the listening. In a tonic analysis, we examined the average EEG data over the time course of the music piece. For a phasic analysis, a fast Fourier transform was performed and covariance maps of spectral power were computed in association with the subjective arousal ratings. The subjective arousal ratings of the professional musicians were more consistent than those of the amateur musicians. In the tonic EEG analysis, a mid-frontal theta activity was observed in the professionals. In the phasic EEG, the professionals exhibited an increase of posterior alpha, central delta, and beta rhythm during high arousal. Professionals exhibited different and/or more intense patterns of emotional activation when they listened to the music. The results of the present study underscore the impact of music experience on emotional reactions.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · Neuroscience
    • "Although the difference in perceived arousal between the original and amplitude-normalized excerpts varied in proportion to the amplitude adjustment, mean arousal and pleasantness ratings were highly correlated between both sets of excerpts, and the configuration of the emotion space was globally similar for both sets. As shown in Figure 1, the extent of the overall range in arousal ratings was similar for both sets, suggesting that, in spite of the well-known association between sound intensity and arousal (Dean et al., 2011; Schubert, 2004), amplitude normalization did not hinder the participants' capacity to experience various degrees of music-induced arousal. Moreover, participants' reported liking for the music and the frequency with which they felt music-induced emotions were very similar for both experimental groups. "
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    ABSTRACT: Emotions in music are conveyed by a variety of acoustic cues. Notably, the positive association between sound intensity and arousal has particular biological relevance. However, although amplitude normalization is a common procedure used to control for intensity in music psychology research, direct comparisons between emotional ratings of original and amplitude-normalized musical excerpts are lacking. In this study, 30 non-musicians retrospectively rated the subjective arousal and pleasantness induced by 84 six-second classical music excerpts, and an additional 30 non-musicians rated the same excerpts normalized for amplitude. Following the cue-redundancy and Brunswik lens models of acoustic communication, we hypothesized that arousal and pleasantness ratings would be similar for both versions of the excerpts, and that arousal could be predicted effectively by other acoustic cues besides intensity. Although the difference in mean arousal and pleasantness ratings between original and amplitude-normalized excerpts correlated significantly with the amplitude adjustment, ratings for both sets of excerpts were highly correlated and shared a similar range of values, thus validating the use of amplitude normalization in music emotion research. Two acoustic parameters, spectral flux and spectral entropy, accounted for 65% of the variance in arousal ratings for both sets, indicating that spectral features can effectively predict arousal. Additionally, we confirmed that amplitude-normalized excerpts were adequately matched for loudness. Overall, the results corroborate our hypotheses and support the cue-redundancy and Brunswik lens models.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)
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