Research Topic

Orchestrating emotional processing in aging

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The interaction between classical music and cognition and classical music and emotion has been widely studied, as well as the mechanisms involved. For instance, during the past decade, there has been a renewed interest in the use of classical music for enhancing cognitive performance. Other studies have also ...

The interaction between classical music and cognition and classical music and emotion has been widely studied, as well as the mechanisms involved. For instance, during the past decade, there has been a renewed interest in the use of classical music for enhancing cognitive performance. Other studies have also used music to induce sad or happy moods in participants during cognitive tasks, and then explored its effect on participants’ behaviour.

However, how classical music influences emotional processing at different levels in aging still needs further investigation.

Here we refer to emotional processes as bottom-up and top-down emotional processes such as emotion detection or emotion recognition, attention to emotional stimuli, memory for emotional stimuli and regulation strategies. In line with previous studies on music and cognition, we may expect that the benefits of music in aging are not generalized to all emotional processes. Moreover, the positive effects of music on emotion may not be generalizable to all types of classical excerpts as well. Generally speaking, music is an additional piece of information that older adults have to process and makes the classical music effect questionable. Thus, in order for it to be effective, it must not subtract relevant amounts of resources to emotional processing per sé.

The main aim of this research topic is to investigate, both at behavioural and neurophysiological levels, whether

a) listening to classical music positively affects all levels of emotional processing in aging: we aim to investigate classical music affects at all stages of valenced information processing by using different tasks and different emotional stimuli (verbal and visuo-spatial);
b) listening to classical music mediates cognitive performance via emotion: we focus on improving cognitive performance in aging by boosting emotion processing (e.g., mood induction) using classical music and study the temporal dynamics of emotion modulation of cognitive aging in different cognitive tasks after listening to classical music;
c) classical music-based trainings enhance both emotional and cognitive performance in aging: we aim to evaluate the relevance of different sessions of classical music in terms of improvement in emotion and cognition and percieved quality of life (e.g., do repeated sessions nullify effects?);
d) specific neural processes underly age differences in classical music perception during the cognitive or emotional task: we are interested in investigating how classical music modulates the activation of brain regions involved in cognition and emotion processing in aging.
e) all types of classical music elicit the same effect: we aim to evaluate whether the music benefits are linked to certain types of music (e.g., Mozart, Vilvadi, etc.).


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