Cross-modal interactions in the experience of musical performances: physiological correlates

Author: Chapados, C.; Levitin, D.J.

Description: This experiment was conducted to investigate cross-modal interactions in the emotional experience of music listeners. Previous research showed that visual information present in a musical performance is rich in expressive content, and moderates the subjective emotional experience of a participant listening and/or observing musical stimuli [Vines, B. W., Krumhansl, C. L., Wanderley, M. M., & Levitin, D. J. (2006). Cross-modal interactions in the perception of musical performance. Cognition, 101, 80–113.]. The goal of this follow-up experiment was to replicate this cross-modal interaction by investigating the objective, physiological aspect of emotional response to music measuring electrodermal activity. The scaled average of electrodermal amplitude for visual-auditory presentation was found to be significantly higher than the sum of the reactions when the music was presented in visual only (VO) and auditory only (AO) conditions, suggesting the presence of an emergent property created by bimodal interaction. Functional data analysis revealed that electrodermal activity generally followed the same contour across modalities of presentation, except during rests (silent parts of the performance) when the visual information took on particular salience. Finally, electrodermal activity and subjective tension judgments were found to be most highly correlated in the audio-visual (AV) condition than in the unimodal conditions. The present study provides converging evidence for the importance of seeing musical performances, and preliminary evidence for the utility of electrodermal activity as an objective measure in studies of continuous music-elicited emotions.

Subject headings: Adult; Arousal/physiology; Auditory Perception/physiology; Emotions/physiology; Female; Galvanic Skin Response/physiology; Humans; Judgment; Music; Psychophysiology; Visual Perception/physiology

Publication year: 2008

Journal or book title: Cognition

Volume: 108

Issue: 3

Pages: 639-651

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Type: Journal Article

Serial Number: 381