October 24, 2020

Synchrony in the periphery: inter-subject correlation of physiological responses during live music concerts

A concert is a common event at which people gather to share a musical experience. While techniques are increasingly offering insights into naturalistic stimuli perception, this study extended methods to a more ecological context in order to explore real-world music listening within a concert setting. Cardiorespiratory, skin conductance, and facial muscle responses were measured from participants attending one of three concerts with live chamber music performances of works of varying Western Classical styles (Viennese Classical, Contemporary, and Romantic). Collective physiological synchronisation of audience members was operationalised via inter-subject correlation (ISC). By assessing which musical features (obtained via Music Information Retrieval and music-theoretical analyses) evoked moments of high synchrony, logistic regressions revealed that tempo consistently predicted physiological synchrony across all concerts in Classical and Romantic styles, but not the Contemporary style. Highly synchronised responses across all three concert audiences seemed to occur during structural transitional passages, boundaries, and at phrase repetitions. The results support the idea that group synchronisation is linked to musical arousal, structural coherence, and familiarity. By employing physiological ISC and an inter-disciplinary musical analysis, the current study demonstrates a novel approach to gain valuable insight into experiences of naturalistic stimuli in an ecological context.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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