Music listening plays a pivotal role for children and adolescents, yet surprisingly few neuroimaging studies have studied the underlying functional dynamics. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan 17 preadolescents aged 10-11 years old while listening to music.
We subsequently tracked the occurrence of functional brain networks over time by using a recent method that detects recurrent BOLD phase-locking states: the Leading Eigenvector Dynamics Analysis (LEiDA). In particular, we compared the probabilities of occurrence and switching profiles of different patterns of BOLD phase-locking between music and no music. Moreover, we used an adapted version of the Barcelona Music Reward Questionnaire (BMRQ) to measure the music reward sensitivity of the participants.
Our results showed significantly increased occurrence of a BOLD phase-locking pattern during music listening compared to no music, characterized by a phase-shift in the BOLD signals of the medial orbitofrontal and ventromedial prefrontal cortices – a brain subsystem associated to reward processing – from the rest of the brain. Moreover, we observed a significantly higher probability of switching to this pattern while listening to music. We also found a positive correlation between the individual musical reward sensitivity and the tendency to switch to this reward state during music.
Our findings highlight the involvement of a brain subsystem involved in hedonic processing during music listening in the early adolescent brain. These results offer novel insight into the neural underpinnings of musical reward in early adolescence and may help us to understand the importance of music at this delicate age.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience