Electrodermal Responses to Dissonant and Consonant Music
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Owing to the close relation between music and emotions, autonomic responses to music have been often studied. In particular we have previously shown that musical excerpts can elicit skin conductance responses (SCRS) depending on the level of arousal of the emotion as expressed by the music. In the present study. we extend the SCR sensitivity to valence, as conveyed by musical consonance/dissonance. Dissonant music is generally considered as unpleasant whereas consonant music is generally pleasant. Hence we tested the SCR to consonant and dissonant excerpts in university students. ln order to assess whether the expected SCR sensitivity to consonance/dissonance is linked to valence rather than to differences in musical characteristics, rare individuals having no perceptual deficit but having difficulties in experiencing pleasure have been included in the experiment. these subjects who have no psychiatric disorders are known as non-clinical physical anhedonics. Anhedonics are expected to perceive the consonance/dissonance distinction as well as controls but to exhibit smaller SCR in comparison to normal listeners. the results are consistent with these predictions in showing larger SCRs to consonant than to dissonant musical excerpts, particularly so in controls. Thus, the results are in accordance with the notion that SCR is sensitive to valence, and not only to arousal in musical settings.