Psychophysiological responses to auditory change

Lorraine Chuen, David Sears, Stephen Mcadams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


A comprehensive characterization of autonomic and somatic responding within the auditory domain is currently lacking. We studied whether simple types of auditory change that occur frequently during music listening could elicit measurable changes in heart rate, skin conductance, respiration rate, and facial motor activity. Participants heard a rhythmically isochronous sequence consisting of a repeated standard tone, followed by a repeated target tone that changed in pitch, timbre, duration, intensity, or tempo, or that deviated momentarily from rhythmic isochrony. Changes in all parameters produced increases in heart rate. Skin conductance response magnitude was affected by changes in timbre, intensity, and tempo. Respiratory rate was sensitive to deviations from isochrony. Our findings suggest that music researchers interpreting physiological responses as emotional indices should consider acoustic factors that may influence physiology in the absence of induced emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-904
Number of pages14
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Auditory change
  • Facial EMG
  • Heart rate
  • Respiration rate
  • Skin conductance


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