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Universality and Domain Specificity of Emotion-A Quantitative Non Linear EEG Based Approach

Music has been present in human culture since time immemorial, some say music came even before speech. The effort to understand the wide variety of emotions evoked by music has started not long back. With the advent and rapid growth of various neurological bio-sensors we can now attempt to quantify various dimensions of emotional experience induced by music especially instrumental music – since it is free from any language barriers. In this study, we took eight (8) cross cultural instrumental clips originating mainly from Indian and Western music. A listening test comprising of 100 participants across the globe was conducted to associate each clip with its corresponding emotional valence. The participants were asked to mark each clip according to their perception of four basic emotions (joy/sorrow and anxiety/serenity) invoked by each instrumental clip. EEG study was then conducted on 10 participants to measure the response evoked by the same instrumental clips in the alpha and theta frequency regions. We took the help of latest non-linear multi-fractal analysis technique – MFDFA to estimate the change in multi-fractal spectral width (corresponding to alpha as well as theta waves) associated with each of the clips in frontal, temporal and occipital lobes. The response in the alpha domain reveals a hint in the direction of universality of music, while in theta domain we have culture specific response. Moreover, we tried to develop alpha as well as theta multi-fractal spectral width as a single parameter with which we can quantify the valence and arousal based effects corresponding to a particular musical clip. The results and implications are discussed in detail.


Archi Banerjee, Shankha Sanyal, Ranjan Sengupta and Dipak Ghosh

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