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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01976

Musicians show better auditory and tactile identification of emotions in music

  • 1School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Montreal University, Canada
  • 2Carleton University, Canada

Musicians are better at processing sensory information and at integrating multisensory information in detection and discrimination tasks, but whether these enhanced abilities extend to more complex processes is still unknown. Emotional appeal is a crucial part of musical experience, but whether musicians can better identify emotions in music throughout different sensory modalities has yet to be determined. The goal of the present study was to investigate the auditory, tactile and audiotactile identification of emotions in musicians. Melodies expressing happiness, sadness, fear/threat, and peacefulness were played and participants had to rate each excerpt on a 10-point scale for each of the four emotions. Stimuli were presented through headphones and/or a glove with haptic audio exciters. The data suggest that musicians and control are comparable in the identification of the most basic (happiness and sadness) emotions. However, in the most difficult unisensory identification conditions (fear/threat and peacefulness), significant differences emerge between groups, suggesting that musical training enhances the identification of emotions, in both the auditory and tactile domains. These results support the hypothesis that musical training has an impact at all hierarchical levels of sensory and cognitive processing.

Keywords: emotion, Music, Auditory Perception, Tactile perception, brain plasticity

Received: 23 Apr 2019; Accepted: 13 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Sharp, Houde, Bacon and Champoux. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mrs. Andréanne Sharp, School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Montreal University, Montréal, H3C 3J7, Quebec, Canada,