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PSYCHOLOGY OF MUSIC: Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory, Research, Applications.

Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory, Research, Applications. Edited by Patrik Juslin and John A. Sloboda. (Series in Affective Science.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. [xiv, 975 p. ISBN 9780199230143. $115.] Illustrations, bibliographies, index.

Once upon a time, not very long ago, emotions were body states. And by an accounting that was tenable, it should be added. Emotions have bodily consequences: we feel them. When, for instance, Iago sneers that Othello is "well-tuned" in his contentment, we understand the physicality of the metaphor, no less than the visceral envy that will "set down the pegs that make this music." Similarly we accept that extreme emotions, like those endured by Lear in his bereavement, may lead to bodily distress, collapse, even death (if we permit Elizabethan tragedy as testimony to early modern conceptualizations: a full tally can be found in Kenneth Heaton's "Faints, Fits, and Fatalities from Emotion in Shakespeare's Characters," British Medical Journal 333 [2006]: 1335-38). Above all, it was the heart where emotions stirred, the heart that registered joy or grief--today we would still take note of diastolic pressure, cardiac catecholamine synthesis, blood glucose levels. Acute dysfunction and even failure of the heart owing to emotional crisis ("heart-break") are acknowledged within modern cardiophysiology, though the relevant mechanisms are not fully understood (see, on cardiac adrenergic influence, Jacob Abraham et al., "Stress Cardiomyopathy after Intravenous Administration of Catecholamines and Beta-Receptor Agonists," Journal of the American College of Cardiology 53 [2009]: 1320-25; and especially Ilan Wittstein et al., "Neurohumoral Features of Myocardial Stunning due to Sudden Emotional Stress," New England Journal of Medicine 352 [2005]: 539-48). Optimal physiological homeostasis, too--what Othello might recognize as a subjective feeling of contentment--indeed owes much to efficient cardiovascular function, but to say that the heart has regained its Galenic locus of human emotion would be oversimple. Instead our enduring appreciation of the heart as more than merely emotionally symbolic evolves out of a convergence of early experimental physiology with brain science (an oddly convoluted story, imminent in Otniel Dror's Blush, Adrenaline, Excitement: Modernity and the Study of Emotions, 1860-1940 [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming]). The unparalleled ascent of the "mind sciences" over the last two centuries, along with the theoretical secularization of the mind (unhinged from the soul), has established the brain as the agent of cognition and emotion both.

Emotions, then, are regulatory brain-body states that mobilize various endogenous systems, allowing us to coordinate our engagement with the external world, that is, "to cope with the challenges of [our] physical and social environment." Many such states, "especially acute states such as fear or anger, are coupled with enhanced perceptual processing, decision making, action selection, and increased energetic expenditure" (Katalin Gothard & Kari Hoffman, "Circuits of Emotion in the Primate Brain," in Primate Neuroethology, ed. Michael Platt & Asif Ghazanfar [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010], 292-315). That cognitive processes operate independently of emotions, it may need to be said, cannot bear scrutiny. Iago's claim that "we have reason to cool our raging motions" betrays a dualist folly that discounts how reason is forged. Our intentional and dispositional mental states imbue our thoughts with directionality and purpose, elemental components in the creation of subjective meaning. The ideas we formulate and extend are carried into consciousness atop emotional associations with our interlocutors in past encounters. Emotions in turn proceed from--acquire their coherent expression from--thoughts, that is, from assessment, judgment, belief. Without the anchor of cognitive content, emotional responsiveness could not be individuated, gradations of necessary action could not be gauged, continuity in our construction of self could not be maintained. The complexity of our social interactions finds us recognizing and evaluating occurrent emotions in others while monitoring our subjective visceral experience in a continuous causality loop. Even our private (unspoken) thoughts are in this sense social, their audience prospective or idealized: there is no thinking that is not emotionally calibrated. The delusion bequeathed us by the philosopher is that we are rational. In truth, of course, we rationalize.

Yet it is alternately bracing and chastening to speculate how much must be achieved to support such a sequence of propositions. Questions revolving around the interoperability of systems, the functional integration of independent processes, and the relationships of parts to wholes will pose challenges to the durability of any theory. Indeed there are robust claims that we know nothing of "how the mind works" at all (any of the writings of Jerry Fodor will serve; e.g., the review headed "Woof, Woof," in The Times Literary Supplement, October 8, 2010, 7-8). How it comes to pass that we are emotionally aware--that is, how interoception, though perhaps immeasurable, becomes heightened in emotional experience--would also seem to require explication. And there are additionally (as I have alluded) (he measurable "noncognitive" (physiological) systems essential to emotion-cognition correlations, such as skin conductance and pulse rate, to say nothing of neuroendocrine mediation, or of hormonal feedback to the brainstem and hypothalamic systems (for a sense of the accumulating literature, helpful reviews are those by, respectively, Margaret Bradley and Peter Lang, "Measuring Emotion: Behavior, Feeling, and Physiology," Cognitive Neuroscience of Emotion, ed. Richard Lane and Lynn Nadel [New York: Oxford University Press, 2000], 242-76; and Julian Thayer and Richard Lane, "A Model of Neurovisceral Integration in Emotion Regulation and Dysregulation," Journal of Affective Disorders 61 [2000]: 201-16). To follow out the implications of cognitive and affective causality models across many disciplines has been the project of a generation. (Even a suggestive representation of this work would transcend boundaries here; for an accessible summary from a sociological vantage point, though in need of an updated edition, see Jonathan Turner's On the Origins of Human Emotions, 2d ed. [Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000]; on applications of affective science to historical methodologies, see Barbara Rosenwein, "Problems and Methods in the History of Emotions," Passions in Context 1 [2010], forthcoming, and Fay Bound Alberti, "Bodies, Hearts, and Minds: Why Emotions Matter to Historians of Science and Medicine," Isis 100 [2009]: 798-810; within psychology and neurobiology, Marc Lewis includes a virtuosic summary of current work in "Bridging Emotion Theory and Neurobiology through Dynamic Systems Modeling," Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 [2005]: 169-245). The emerging disciplines subsumed under the rubric "cognitive neurosciences"--not least those devoted to the study of emotions--operate at a dizzying rate of revision, a circumstance that can only serve to underscore our general indebtedness to the Series in Affective Science volumes published since 1994 by Oxford University Press.

The editors of Handbook of Music and Emotion, Patrik Juslin and John Sloboda, also edited the first volume of the series to address music (Music and Emotion: Theory and Research [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001]), which they now update. Some contributions are revisions, but two thirds of them are wholly new, such that the disciplinary range reflects the proverbial cognitive turn in sociological, anthropological, and psychological approaches to the investigation of human music-making. That range embraces much, for unlike the visual arts (I rely on David Freedberg and Vittorio Gallese, "Motion, Emotion, and Empathy in Esthetic Experience," Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11 [2007]: 197-203), musical behaviors have long attracted notice as exhibiting both sensory and emotional components. A governing, often rehearsed polarity in the underlying theoretical assumptions does come to the fore: whether, how, and to what extent music conveys (communicates, expresses) or elicits (evokes, induces) emotion. Unfortunately characterized (by some) as "cognitivism vs emotivism," the division in orientation stems from views that, on the one hand, affective responses predictably inhere to the expectancy fulfillment strategies of any given instantiation of music, and on the other hand, affective responses occur as results of facilitated recognition and association fluencies on the part of listeners. A proposal that circumvents the problem, emphasizing moods as goalless states, by Vladimir Konecni ("Does Music Induce Emotion?" Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 2 [2008]: 115-29) receives an updating in the present volume, "The Influence of Affect on Music Choice." That music carries or encodes inherent emotional content has always been a difficult argument, one that reduces either to categorical determinations of valence (positive or negative) and arousal (high or low event rate) or to the question of perceptual inference on the part of listeners (relevant positions are reviewed by Nick Zangwill, "Against Emotion: Hanslick Was Right About Music," British Journal of Aesthetics 44 [2004]: 29-43). Attempts to construct musical works according to prescriptive formulae may yield suggestive results (e.g., Sandrine Vieillard et al., "Happy, Sad, Scary, and Peaceful Musical Excerpts for Research on Emotions," Cognition and Emotion 22 [2008]: 720-52), though it is unclear how they might generalize across cultures. That is a problem lately recognized by experimental psychologists, and directly confronted here by William Forde Thompson and Laura-Lee Balkwill ("Cross-Cultural Similarities and Differences"). It is also duly recognized by Stephen Davies in the Handbook's lone philosophical foray, "Emotions Expressed and Aroused by Music: Philosophical Perspectives." Davies endorses a view here that music can be said to elicit emotions only if we conceive of them as embodied but severed from cognitive content, by a mechanism not elaborated but somehow allied with the phenomenon of emotional contagion, and thus possibly reconcilable with evolutionary theories of the emotional substrates for auditory communication (see Pascal Belin, "Voice Processing in Human and Non-Human Primates," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B, 361 [2006]: 2091-2107).

Emotional expressivity receives consideration in several essays, as one of the editors, Patrik Juslin, has actively and fruitfully pursued this fundamental issue; yet empiricism gravitates towards what is susceptible to interrogation (self-reporting) and/or measurement, so that the question of what emotional expressivity in music is yields two sorts of problems: the extent to which the musical expression of emotion elides with some form of (culturally contingent) pattern recognition; and the means by which emotions are expressed through performance. In any case, this is a primary field, plowed by a pioneer, Alf Gabrielsson, a dedicatee of the Handbook's prior incarnation; the summary of his work in two contributions here ("The Role of Structure in the Musical Expression of Emotions," with Erik Lindstrom, and "Strong Experiences with Music") can serve as an introduction to the fundamental questions, and in any case should not be overlooked. Indeed, one way or another, the research documented between these covers undertakes to refine the premise that music elicits emotional responses. Juslin is distinctly present, in a useful reformulation of a target article he co-authored with Daniel Vastfjall ("Emotional Responses to Music: The Need to Consider Underlying Mechanisms," Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 [2008]: 559-621), here in additional collaboration with Simon Liljestrom and Lars-Olov Lundqvist. The working theory proposes both a departure from "cognitivist" perception theories and an elaborate overhaul of a dominant theory in emotion research, in which "cognitive appraisal" is the presumed mechanism for emotion induction (in simplistic terms, liking or disliking something amounts to a positive or negative appraisal; less simply, emotions emerge from evaluations of relative novelty, urgency, norm compatibility, goal congruency, and the like). Evaluation of experimental data gained through a newly proposed theoretical framework, abbreviated AMUSE for Appraisal in Music and Emotion, now in progress at Uppsala University, accompanies a summary of implications for research and for possible clinical applications. Not unrelated in this context, David Huron and Elizabeth Margulis survey projects, by way of introducing their own, relating theoretical conceptualizations of tension and expectancy to observed physiological correlates, including alterations in neurochemical activity ("Musical Expectancy and Thrills"). However, musical induction of emotion, were it provable, would seem to be multiply contingent, the factors manipulating emotional experience difficult to disentangle and identify. Too little is acknowledged here of findings by Oliver Grewe and his associates, which question assumptions about the reflexivity of physiological arousal and provisionally support a "cognitivist" position that bodily responses to music are strongly mediated by selective attention, recognition, and memory ("Emotions Over Time: Synchronicity and Development of Subjective, Physiological, and Facial Affective Reactions to Music," Emotion 7 [2007]: 774-88).

This is a rich area of investigation, characterized by more questions than answers, but however capacious cognitive appraisal theory turns out to be, some means of incorporating the social interconnectedness that invades and sculpts our mental states must figure in experimental models. The influence of social feedback on musically-evoked emotions, for instance, has recently been demonstrated in an Internet-based study with several thousand participants randomly assigned to two groups (Hauke Egermann et al., "Social Feedback Influences Musically Induced Emotions," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1169 [2009]: 346-50). Those in the second group reported only after receiving input from the first about the music they heard, which actually "seemed to change the [reported] emotion induced by the music," suggesting that "feeling an emotion like that of the majority of their peers seems to be an attractive goal" (p. 348). Such are the measures of subjective experience. Whether physiological measures, such as those studied by Huron and Margulis, may prove susceptible to influence by social feedback remains, for the moment, an open question (but cf. Vasily Klucharev et al., "Reinforcement Learning Signal Predicts Social Conformity," Neuron 61 [2009]: 140-51). Success has recently been reported in the individual monitoring of indicators of emotional arousal--impractical in studies involving large populations--so as to overcome the imprecision of self-reported ratings and the variability of the musical stimulus over time (Valerie Salimpoor et al, "The Rewarding Aspects of Music Listening Are Related to Degree of Emotional Arousal," Public Library of Science One 4 [2009], e7487, [accessed 20 January 2011]). But clearly obstacles remain.

Handbook of Music and Emotions has an editorial introduction, but readers looking to orient themselves would do well to digest an essay that Juslin and Sloboda locate fourth in the book's sequence, "At the Interface between the Inner and Outer World: Psychological Perspectives." Basic matters of terminology, categorization, research methodology, and emerging themes are approached concisely and provide context for much discussion elsewhere. Similarly, Isabelle Peretz's revision of her 2001 contribution, "Towards a Neurobiology of Musical Emotions," both contains an essential outline of relevant brain organization and betrays an extraordinary gift for communication; perhaps more to the point, the language of neuroscience that she clarifies provides the backdrop for at least as much of the literature cited throughout the volume as does the language of psychology. No better example exists for this than the essay that follows by Judith Becker, "Exploring the Habitus of Listening: Anthropological Perspectives." The volume is front-loaded with what really ought to be considered required reading for musicians, music educators, and music scholars of all stripes, with Tia DeNora's "Emotion as Social Emergence: Perspectives from Music Sociology" in the role of fourth hitter. If an immediate example of their efficacy is wanted, Sloboda's own "Music in Everyday Life: The Role of Emotions" some three hundred pages later, leaning heavily on DeNora, provides one.

Among the disciplines embraced by the new Handbook I must allude at least obliquely to those addressing childhood development, personality, and clinical therapy. That some of the thirty-three contributions, like them, have not been mentioned here should be taken as no more than an indication of my limited range: I have encountered only the highest standards of scholarship and have not once regretted even those arguments I fail to appreciate fully. The quality of the writing and editing is consistently high, the voluminous reference lists accurate, and the select reading recommendations at the conclusion of each essay helpful. A name index would have facilitated the identification of common interests across disciplines, though it would have added girth. There is a regrettable absence, in my estimation, of a remarkable body of work centrally placing music, the phonological aspects of language, and the role of limbic and paralimbic structures in the pleasures we take in learning (see e.g., Stephanie Khalfa et al., "Evidence of Lateralized Anteriomedial Temporal Structures Involvement in Music Emotion Processing," Neuropsychologia 46 [2008]: 2485-93; Steven Brown et al., "Passive Music Listening Spontaneously Engages Limbic and Paralimbic Systems," NeuroReport 15 [2004]: 2033-37). For the investigation of music and emotions from the perspective of this literature becomes a tool of far greater scope than is here apparent, one that may assist in the identification of neural networks involved in affective and dopaminergic system disorders. Above I pointed to the possibility of an outcome from such study that--without overstating the case too much--physiological responses may themselves be cognitive. One extraordinary figure exploring this area, Stefan Koelsch, is in fact a co-contributor to the Handbook, in a technical survey, "Functional Neuroimaging," that describes the electronic technologies that so much brain research relies upon. This would be my candidate for the fifth essential reading that no one should do without, but it insufficiently represents the importance of its lead author's work. It was a report from Koelsch's laboratory some years ago on the processing of music in the limbic system ("A Cardiac Signature of Emotionality," European Journal of Neuroscience 26 [2007]: 3328-38) that helped me understand how the emotionality of musical engagement can still be considered a matter of the heart.


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Author:Germer, Mark
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 1, 2011
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