Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Emotional Substrate

This brief article talking about the effect of music on emotions has a quote suggesting something I'd not seen before, that it seems part of what might be happening is that music has a physical effect that the body translates into an emotional effect.

>>> “Music induces a continuous, dynamic—and to some extent predictable—change in the cardiovascular system,” said Luciano Bernardi, M.D., lead researcher of the study and professor of Internal Medicine at Pavia University in Pavia, Italy. “It is not only the emotion that creates the cardiovascular changes, but this study suggests that also the opposite might be possible, that cardiovascular changes may be the substrate for emotions, likely in a bi-directional way.” <<<


  1. Bi-directional effects have been observed in all sorts of different body systems, which on the face of it you would think are entirely unrelated - e.g. the placebo effect, and the effect of emotions on the immune system.

    I suspect that we have barely scratched the surface yet in terms of knowledge of all the bidirectional mind-body interactions that exist.

    I didn't know about the effect of music on the cardiovascular system, but in the context of assuming that many such interactions remain to be discovered, I'm not at all surprised.

  2. Jonathan - Thanks for the comment and the info. Can't remember coming across the term "bi-directional" before. Sort of makes conceptualizing what's going on more complicated and more understandable at the same time. Also, more confirmation we seem to be just on the verge of major breakthroughs in this area.

  3. We've discussed bi-directional systems before - such as the effect of emotion on posture & expression and vice versa, for instance in how unconsciously mimicking somebody's expression can lead to you experience the same emotion.

  4. Yes, I remember. But if I'm reading that quote right, he's saying the bi-directional action is within the one person and it's the physical and the emotional that are bi-directional, specifically that music can change the physiology and that can change the emotional state. I'd always unconsciously assumed it was all visa versa, not that it was going both ways at the same time. Obviously something to explore. (And you're right to remind me of the posture item, but here I was just thinking of the effect of music.)