How do listeners react to different urban soundscapes? An fMRI study of perception and emotion

Amy Irwin, Deborah A. Hall, Christopher J. Plack

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The present study investigated the neural correlates of the perceptual and affective responses to urban sound environments using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Sixteen participants were scanned whilst passively listening to a set of recordings made in urban spaces. In total, there were 150 recordings, each containing multiple sound sources. Soundscapes were matched in overall sound level (71 dB, A weighted), but differed in their ratings of pleasantness measured on a 5-point scale. As expected, listening to urban soundscapes evoked a significant response in a number of auditory brain regions (inferior colliculus, medial geniculate body, and auditory cortex). Those soundscapes evoking a strong emotional response (either pleasant or unpleasant) activated the amygdala, one of the main emotional centers in the brain. The perceived emotional valence of the soundscape also modulated the auditory response to the sounds. Our results confirm that the subjective metric has physiological validity, and that soundscapes with the same level can have dramatically different effects on the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication38th International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering 2009
PublisherInstitute of Noise Control Engineering
Pages707-713
Number of pages7
Volume1
ISBN (Print)9781615676903
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Event38th International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering 2009 - Ottawa, Canada
Duration: 23 Aug 200926 Aug 2009

Conference

Conference38th International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering 2009
Abbreviated titleINTER-NOISE 2009
Country/TerritoryCanada
CityOttawa
Period23/08/0926/08/09

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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