The effect of background liked music on acute pain perception and its neural correlates
- PMID: 36988425
- DOI: 10.1002/hbm.26293
Music shows tremendous promise in pain relief, especially when considering its non-pharmacological nature. However, our understanding of the precise mechanisms behind music-induced analgesia (MIA) remains poor. The positive emotional state induced by music is one of the key components explaining MIA. To test this possibility and reveal its neural correlates, the present study applied nociceptive laser stimuli to 28 healthy participants when their liked or disliked songs were played as background music, or when they were resting in silence. Differences among conditions were quantified by self-reports of pain intensity and unpleasantness, as well as brain activations in response to acute laser stimuli. As expected, liked music significantly lowered pain ratings to acute painful stimuli compared to disliked music and no music. Consistent with this observation, brain activations in response to acute painful stimuli were deceased within brain areas encoding sensory components of pain, such as the right precentral and postcentral gyri (PreCG/PoCG), brain areas related to affective components of pain, such as the anterior cingulate cortex and bilateral putamen, and brain areas associated with motor control and avoidance reactions to pain, such as the left cerebellum, when liked music was played in the background in comparison to disliked music. Importantly, the relationship between music listening and differences in pain ratings of two music conditions was mediated by the magnitude of right PreCG/PoCG and left cerebellum activations. These findings deepened our understanding of the analgesic benefits of background liked music, a property relevant to clinical applications.
Keywords: emotional modulation; fMRI; liked background music; music-induced analgesia.
© 2023 The Authors. Human Brain Mapping published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.