The emotional power of music: How music enhances the feeling of affective pictures

Baumgartner, Thomas; Lutz, Kai; Schmidt, Conny F.; Jäncke, Lutz (2006). The emotional power of music: How music enhances the feeling of affective pictures. Brain research, 1075(1), pp. 151-164. Elsevier 10.1016/j.brainres.2005.12.065

[img] Text
Baumgartner_BrainResearch_2006.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (432kB) | Request a copy

Music is an intriguing stimulus widely used in movies to increase the emotional experience. However, no brain imaging study has to date examined this enhancement effect using emotional pictures (the modality mostly used in emotion research) and musical excerpts. Therefore, we designed this functional magnetic resonance imaging study to explore how musical stimuli enhance the feeling of affective pictures. In a classical block design carefully controlling for habituation and order effects, we presented fearful and sad pictures (mostly taken from the IAPS) either alone or combined with congruent emotional musical excerpts (classical pieces). Subjective ratings clearly indicated that the emotional experience was markedly increased in the combined relative to the picture condition. Furthermore, using a second-level analysis and regions of interest approach, we observed a clear functional and structural dissociation between the combined and the picture condition. Besides increased activation in brain areas known to be involved in auditory as well as in neutral and emotional visual-auditory integration processes, the combined condition showed increased activation in many structures known to be involved in emotion processing (including for example amygdala, hippocampus, parahippocampus, insula, striatum, medial ventral frontal cortex, cerebellum, fusiform gyrus). In contrast, the picture condition only showed an activation increase in the cognitive part of the prefrontal cortex, mainly in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Based on these findings, we suggest that emotional pictures evoke a more cognitive mode of emotion perception, whereas congruent presentations of emotional visual and musical stimuli rather automatically evoke strong emotional feelings and experiences.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Social Neuroscience and Social Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Baumgartner, Thomas


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology








Thomas Baumgartner

Date Deposited:

17 Oct 2014 10:37

Last Modified:

21 Jan 2015 00:33

Publisher DOI:





Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback