Musicianship Enhances Perception But Not Feeling of Emotion From Others’ Social Interaction Through Speech Prosody

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Music expertise has been shown to enhance emotion recognition from speech prosody. Yet, it is currently unclear whether music training enhances the recognition of emotions through other communicative modalities such as vision and whether it enhances the feeling of such emotions. Musicians and nonmusicians were presented with visual, auditory, and audiovisual clips consisting of the biological motion and speech prosody of two agents interacting. Participants judged as quickly as possible whether the expressed emotion was happiness or anger, and subsequently indicated whether they also felt the emotion they had perceived. Measures of accuracy and reaction time were collected from the emotion recognition judgements, while yes/no responses were collected as indication of felt emotions. Musicians were more accurate than nonmusicians at recognizing emotion in the auditory-only condition, but not in the visual-only or audiovisual conditions. Although music training enhanced recognition of emotion through sound, it did not affect the felt emotion. These findings indicate that emotional processing in music and language may use overlapping but also divergent resources, or that some aspects of emotional processing are less responsive to music training than others. Hence music training may be an effective rehabilitative device for interpreting others’ emotion through speech.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-338
Number of pages16
JournalMusic Perception
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2020


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