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Passive music listening spontaneously engages limbic and paralimbic systems

Brown, Steven1 CA; Martinez, Michael J.1 2; Parsons, Lawrence M.1 2

Auditory and Vestibular Systems

In this PET study, non-musicians passively listened to unfamiliar instrumental music revealed afterward to elicit strongly pleasant feelings. Activations were observed in the subcallosal cingulate gyrus, prefrontal anterior cingulate, retrosplenial cortex, hippocampus, anterior insula, and nucleus accumbens. This is the first observation of spontaneous responses in such limbic and paralimbic areas during passive listening to unfamiliar although liked music. Activations were also seen in primary auditory, secondary auditory, and temporal polar areas known to respond to music. Our findings complement neuroimaging studies of aesthetic responses to music that have used stimuli selected by subjects or designed by experimenters. The observed pattern of activity is discussed in terms of a model synthesizing emotional and cognitive responses to music.

1Research Imaging Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Dr. MSC 6240, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA

2Present address: Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

CACorresponding Author:

Received 10 June 2004; accepted 28 June 2004

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.