February is a short month, but that did not deter bloggers. There were 26 excellent blog posts covering PLoS ONE articles aggregated on ResearchBlogging.org in the past month. So, it is time today to reveal the Pick Of The Month. Drumroll, please…..
This month’s winner is Princess Ojiaku from the Science with Moxie blog, for her post Musical Emotions: Chills Edition that explained the article The rewarding aspects of music listening are related to degree of emotional arousal by Valorie N. Salimpoor, Mitchel Benovoy, Gregory Longo, Jeremy R. Cooperstock and Robert J. Zatorre, all from Montreal. From the Abstract:
Listening to music is amongst the most rewarding experiences for humans. Music has no functional resemblance to other rewarding stimuli, and has no demonstrated biological value, yet individuals continue listening to music for pleasure. It has been suggested that the pleasurable aspects of music listening are related to a change in emotional arousal, although this link has not been directly investigated. In this study, using methods of high temporal sensitivity we investigated whether there is a systematic relationship between dynamic increases in pleasure states and physiological indicators of emotional arousal, including changes in heart rate, respiration, electrodermal activity, body temperature, and blood volume pulse.
Twenty-six participants listened to self-selected intensely pleasurable music and “neutral” music that was individually selected for them based on low pleasure ratings they provided on other participants’ music. The “chills” phenomenon was used to index intensely pleasurable responses to music. During music listening, continuous real-time recordings of subjective pleasure states and simultaneous recordings of sympathetic nervous system activity, an objective measure of emotional arousal, were obtained.
Results revealed a strong positive correlation between ratings of pleasure and emotional arousal. Importantly, a dissociation was revealed as individuals who did not experience pleasure also showed no significant increases in emotional arousal.
These results have broader implications by demonstrating that strongly felt emotions could be rewarding in themselves in the absence of a physically tangible reward or a specific functional goal.
In her blog post, Princess Ojiaku wrote:
When we get chills or feel intense pleasure when listening to music we enjoy, there is an actual range of bodily responses that go along with that! This seems like common sense, but this is important scientifically because having an actual, quantitative measure of the changes our bodies go through when experiencing good music opens doors to scientists thinking about other questions like, “why is music so unique that it causes actual emotional and physical arousal?”
Usually emotional responses have a definite function, such as joy from eating good food serves to keep us alive, or bonding with friends keeps us happy and connected to our fellow humans. Feeling these emotions helps us by making sure we keep doing the things that are good for our survival and well-being. But music is one of the only things that makes us happy without having a clear beneficial function to our survival as human beings. I think that makes it pretty special and interesting, and that makes me content to consume and play it.
Congratulations to Princess and the authors of the article. I have contacted them and wonderful T-shirts from the PLoS Store will be on their way to them shortly.
March 2009: Ed Yong
April 2009: Eric Michael Johnson
May 2009: Christie Wilcox
June 2009: Iddo Friedberg
July 2009: Toaster Sunshine and Hermitage
August 2009: Bjoern Brembs
September 2009: Alun Salt
October 2009: Andrew Farke
November 2009: John Beetham
December 2009: SciCurious
January 2010 – Anne-Marie Hodge