A Significantly stronger mind-wandering was observed during sad compared with happy music as well as during happy slow compared with happy fast music. B Significantly more meta-awareness was observed during happy compared with sad music as well as during happy fast compared with happy slow music.
All of these clusters were on average within a distance of only 5 brain voxels max. Thus, in accord with the hypothesis motivated by Experiment 1A, sad music, compared with happy music, was linked to greater centrality within the core nodes of the DMN. Stronger centrality of the DMN nodes during listening to sad vs.
A Sagittal and B axial views show centrality maps obtained from a voxel-wise paired t -test comparing sad and happy music. Sad and happy stimuli had the same loudness and tempo see Methods.
In this study we examined self-generated thought as a function of sad and happy music. Our findings reveal that music evoking sad, low-arousal emotions, compared with music evoking happy, high-arousal emotions, increased the strength of mind-wandering. Importantly, very little is known about which external cues trigger mind-wandering. The fact that mind-wandering can be externally modulated by means of music is in line with previous evidence 33 of mind-wandering elicited during task such as reading aloud, and flags the importance of external emotional cues in eliciting mind-wandering episodes.
The enhanced mind-wandering during sad vs. Consistent with our findings, a number of previous music studies 34 — 38 reported activations in regions of the DMN. Specifically, the vmPFC was engaged in responses to excerpts of classical music evoking sadness 34 , and the dmPFC was engaged during listening to sad music with lyrics 35 as well as music evoking autobiographical memories 36 , 37 past-related thoughts can often occur during mind-wandering episodes Moreover, activation in the anterior medial frontal cortex correlated with perceived intentionality conveyed by music believed to be composed by a human vs.
Therefore, future research could stratify the self-referential component of mind-wandering evoked in response to sad music by specifically testing whether sad music, compared with happy music, increases reflections on personal goals. Contrary to previous findings 10 , our results do not corroborate that sad compared with happy mood always enhances mind-wandering in a past-oriented way.
This points to a fascinating relationship between emotions evoked by artworks and thought. Sad music is slow-paced music associated with low levels of arousal, while happy music is fast-paced music associated with high levels of arousal. Because arousal is an intrinsic component of music-evoked emotions, it is challenging to disentangle its contribution to the observed relationship between sad music and increased mind-wandering i.
Although we controlled for the tempo of the music stimuli in Experiment 1B, happy music evoked higher arousal than sad music. This underscores that while tempo clearly influences arousal, arousal does not simply vary as a function of tempo. Nevertheless, our data suggest that mind-wandering is modulated not only by arousal levels but also by the quality of the evoked emotions sad, happy , because fast sad music, compared with slow happy music, tended to elicit stronger mind-wandering, despite evoking significantly lower arousal Fig.
Moreover, note that meditation and relaxation practices aimed at facilitating mindfulness and at the same time avoiding mind-wandering usually make use of music evoking low arousal emotions with peaceful and relaxed but not sad emotional tone. Therefore, it is unlikely that arousal is the only factor driving the changes in mind-wandering. An additional interesting result was about the form of mental experiences during music. In particular, images compared with words were clearly the dominant modality for both sad and happy music, pointing to a strong link between visual mental imagery and music processing.
This finding is consistent with previous studies 34 , 41 reporting activations in the primary visual cortex during music listening and with the predominance of visual mental imagery during resting state 26 , This study employed not only subjective but also objective indices of mind-wandering. Self-reports and neural activity were measured in separate groups of participants, assuming that mind-wandering scores for the behavioral experiments hold for the participants tested in the scanner. It will be important for future research on music and spontaneous cognition to link subjective and objective measures of mind-wandering using within-subjects designs.
This would allow direct investigation of the relationship between the engagement of the DMN and the stronger mind-wandering during sad vs. Another constraint of this study is related to the assessment of the enjoyment of the music pieces. People usually tend to mind-wander during boring and unpleasant activities Thus, the increased mind-wandering during sad music might be potentially explained by lower levels of enjoyment during sad compared with happy music.
Although we did not directly measure enjoyment of the music stimuli in Experiment 1A, we collected ratings of felt valence in the corresponding pilot study see Supplementary Information. For all experiments 1A, 1B, and 2 , valence ratings did not significantly differ between the two emotion conditions, suggesting that both sad and happy music were experienced as pleasurable, and thus enjoyable felt valence correlates with enjoyment in the context of music For this reason, it is unlikely that the increased mind-wandering during sad music was simply due to low levels of enjoyment of sad music.
This study has specifically tested the short-term effects of sad and happy music on spontaneous cognition. It will be interesting, in future studies, to discover whether specific listening habits e. This line of research would be highly relevant especially to music-based interventions in clinical populations e. Finally, the present study was conceived as a direct comparison between sad and happy music, therefore our results can not be used to infer absolute effects of sad or happy music on mind-wandering and DMN activity.
Such effects should be determined, for instance, by contrasting sad and happy music with a non-music baseline condition, which discloses the average level of mind-wandering and DMN activity experienced at rest by participants in the absence of any type of music or auditory stimulation.
In conclusion, we demonstrate that music modulates self-generated thought: During sad vs. Thus, our findings highlight the capability of music to trigger specific mental processes as a function of its emotional tone, opening a novel line of future research elucidating the impact of music on internally-oriented cognition.
This has crucial implications for the application of music in a variety of domains including education and psychotherapy. The diminishing effect of happy music on mind-wandering may be beneficial for sustained attention during task performance 45 in educational contexts, and reduce rumination as a repetitive style of thinking associated with depression The stimulating effect of sad music on mind-wandering, by contrast, could be harnessed to improve creativity 11 , social cognition 47 , and decision-making 48 in healthy individuals.
Our study also shows modulation of the DMN by music. The DMN was initially introduced as resting state phenomenon 49 and subsequent studies revealed that its engagement reflects mind-wandering 18 — Our results reveal that the DMN is highly sensitive to external emotional cues conveyed by music, extending previous evidence 50 of a link between DMN and affective processing to the music domain. Participants were not compensated for their participation.
All stimuli were unfamiliar to participants see Supplementary Information for further details about the stimulus selection. All stimuli were edited to have 1. The task was designed to parallel a natural everyday setting of exposure to music, by employing unconstrained listening and use of relatively long music pieces.
Participants were told that the experiment was about music, emotion, and relaxation. They were instructed to relax, listen to the music without any interruption and close their eyes in all experiments, we opted for an eyes closed paradigm because it is typically used in resting state research 56 and increases emotionality Moreover, they were asked to listen to the music through headphones. Participants completed a practice trial to familiarize with the task and to adjust the volume of their computer to a comfortable level.
In the experimental task, the sad and happy music pieces were presented in a counterbalanced order.
After each music trial, thought probes were presented. For these thought probes, participants were instructed to focus on the thoughts they had just before the music ended. The word cloud was prepared in four steps. First, we excluded all the words that were reported less than a cut-off score of 10 times as well as pronouns, adverbs, articles, and prepositions regardless of their frequency of occurrence. Second, we grouped together words with similar semantic content e. Third, we scaled word size by their overall frequency of occurrence within reports i. LIWC identifies pre-chosen categories of language such as positive and negative emotion in a given text and calculates the percentage of total words that match such categories.
Informed consent was obtained from all participants. Unlike in Experiment 1A, sad and happy music stimuli were matched in pairs according to their tempo, measured in beats per minute BPM. Each sad-happy pair had either the same BPM number or a very similar one, with a max. Both emotion sad, happy and tempo slow, fast conditions were presented in a counterbalanced order. None of these subjects participated in Experiment 1 A-B. All participants gave written informed consent.
We controlled sad and happy stimuli for differences in tempo characteristics: first, we matched the stimuli into sad-happy pairs according to their tempo for each pair, sad and happy stimuli had the same or a very similar number of BPM. Then, for each sad-happy pair, we generated an isochronous sequenced electronic beat track and overlaid both the sad and the happy excerpts from that pair with that beat track. Thus, both sad and happy excerpts from each pair were overlaid with an identical beat track, leading to the same perceived tempo and similar vestibular responses for sad and happy music see Supplementary Information for more details about the stimulus preparation and selection.
All excerpts were edited to have 1. ECM requires relatively long trial periods, but has the advantage that only one trial per condition is sufficient per subject. Prior to the fMRI measurements, participants were tested on their familiarity with the selected music pieces see Supplementary Information for further details.
In the scanner participants were presented with the sad and happy excerpts. We also presented blocks with dissonant sad and dissonant happy music, as well as with neutral music results involving the neutral stimuli are reported in the Supplementary Information. The order of blocks was pseudo-randomized across subjects. Participants were instructed to close their eyes and relax during the music listening. MRI data were acquired using a 3. The movement parameters of each participant were also regressed out of the respective fMRI time-series to control for motion artifacts.
ECM analysis was carried out in two steps. On the second level, eigenvector centrality maps were compared between the two experimental conditions using voxel-wise paired t -tests. The authors thank E. Zografakis for his help in preparing the music stimuli used in Experiment 2, and C. Seibert, B. Strusch, M. Lehne, A. Samson, and V. Cheung for comments on the manuscript. Electronic supplementary material. Supplementary information accompanies this paper at Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
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Sci Rep. Published online Oct Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Liila Taruffi, Email: ed. Corresponding author. Received Jul 20; Accepted Oct This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Music is a ubiquitous phenomenon in human cultures, mostly due to its power to evoke and regulate emotions. Introduction The ubiquity of music in human culture owes to its capability to evoke and enhance a wide range of emotions. Results Experiment 1A Comparisons using paired t -tests with Bonferroni-corrected P- values; P -values are two-tailed unless noted otherwise revealed that sad music [3.
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Although these findings suggest that mind wandering might result in both positive and negative outcomes, no previous study has investigated whether these distinct effects are occurring at the same time. Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Conjoint influence of mind-wandering and sleepiness on task performance. The segregation index in this study was called SWKN. In such a case the husband had to decide as to its validity, in the same way as the father before her marriage. Smallwood, J.
Figure 4. Discussion In this study we examined self-generated thought as a function of sad and happy music. Task design and procedure The task was designed to parallel a natural everyday setting of exposure to music, by employing unconstrained listening and use of relatively long music pieces. Task design and procedure Prior to the fMRI measurements, participants were tested on their familiarity with the selected music pieces see Supplementary Information for further details.
Data Availability The datasets analyzed in the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. Electronic supplementary material Supplementary Information K, pdf. Acknowledgements The authors thank E. Author Contributions L.
Notes Competing Interests The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Footnotes Electronic supplementary material Supplementary information accompanies this paper at References 1. Expression of emotion in Eastern and Western music mirrors vocalization.
Koelsch S. Brain correlates of music-evoked emotions. Taruffi L, Koelsch S. The paradox of music-evoked sadness: an online survey. A framework for understanding the relationship between externally and internally directed cognition. James, W. Principles of Psychology Holt, On the negative side is the tendency to lose focus on the task at hand and make distracted mistakes—the thought of my daughter driving is never a comforting one.
Less obvious, and even darker, is a possible connection to neuroticism, a personality style that comes with hair-trigger anxiety, obsessive negative thoughts that endlessly chase their own tails, and a heightened risk for depression. One view has it that neuroticism is an amplified reaction to threat.
This hypothesis receives support from evidence that showing neurotic subjects images of fearful faces triggers an exaggerated response in the amygdala, a brain region that has been linked to fearful emotion. The anxiety is not attached to the here and now, in other words, but is a product of self-generated thought.
This theory is supported by a number of parallels between mind-wandering and neuroticism: Both are associated with creativity and with planning ahead for the future. Both are linked to activity in the default mode network of the brain. T he connection between inner thought and neuroticism feeds the myth of the suffering creative genius. But it would be wrong to conclude that all mind-wanderers must pay for their creative spark with a lifetime of fretful, brooding misery. A follow-up to the study by Killingsworth and Gilbert showed that mind-wandering was a mood-enhancer in at least one specific context: when the ruminators judged their own thoughts to be interesting.
Another study found that thoughts related to the future and the self are followed by periods of markedly improved mood, even if the thoughts themselves were negative. This may explain why, although my son wallowed in gloomy boredom at school, my daughter thrived—she could always retreat to a rich world of inner thought more riveting than what was happening in the classroom.
He holds a day job as a lab technician doing routine, repetitive work that many would find dull, but that provides him with long incubation periods for his poetry, which he views as his real work. His example suggests that the path to happiness may not require turning down the rumination dial after all. Julie Sedivy has taught linguistics and psychology at Brown University and the University of Calgary.