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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Jul;1169:209-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04864.x.

Musical experience promotes subcortical efficiency in processing emotional vocal sounds.

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  • 1Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA.


To understand how musical experience influences subcortical processing of emotionally salient sounds, we recorded brain stem potentials to affective vocal sounds. Our results suggest that auditory expertise engenders subcortical auditory processing efficiency that is intricately connected with acoustic features important for the communication of emotion. This establishes a subcortical role in the auditory processing of emotional cues, providing the first biological evidence for musicians' enhanced perception of vocally expressed emotion.

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