Feeling the real world: limbic response to music depends on related content.Cereb Cortex. 2007 Dec; 17(12):2828-40.CC
Emotions are often object related--they are about someone or something in the world. It is yet an open question whether emotions and the associated perceptual contents that they refer to are processed by different parts of the brain or whether the brain regions that mediate emotions are also involved in the processing of the associated content they refer to. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we showed that simply combining music (rich in emotion but poor in information about the concrete world) with neutral films (poor in emotionality but rich in real-world details) yields increased activity in the amygdala, hippocampus, and lateral prefrontal regions. In contrast, emotional music on its own did not elicit a differential response in these regions. The finding that the amygdala, the heart of the emotional brain, responds increasingly to an emotional stimulus when it is associated with realistic scenes supports a fundamental role for concrete real-world content in emotional processing.