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Joucla, C., Nicolier, M., Giustiniani, J., Brunotte, G., Noiret, N., Monnin, J., Magnin, E., Pazart, L., Moulin, T., Haffen, E. (2018).

Evidence for a neural signature of musical preference during silence.

One of the most basic and person-specific affective responses to music is liking. The present investigation sought to determine whether liking was preserved during spontaneous auditory imagery. To this purpose, we inserted two-second silent intervals into liked and disliked songs, a method known to automatically recreate a mental image of these songs. Neural correlates of musical preference were measured by high-density electroencephalography in twenty subjects who had to listen to a set of five pre-selected unknown songs the same number of times for two weeks. Time frequency analysis of the two most liked and the two most disliked songs confirmed the presence of neural responses related to liking. At the beginning of silent intervals (400-900?ms and 1000-1300?ms), significant differences in theta activity were originating from the inferior frontal and superior temporal gyrus. These two brain structures are known to work together to process various aspects of music and are also activated when measuring liking while listening to music. At the end of silent intervals (1400-1900?ms), significant alpha activity differences originating from the insula were observed, whose exact role remains to be explored. Although exposure was controlled for liked and disliked songs, liked songs were rated as more familiar, underlying the strong relationship that exists between liking, exposure, and familiarity.

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