Brain Topography

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 423–430 | Cite as

Emotions, Arousal, and Frontal Alpha Rhythm Asymmetry During Beethoven’s 5th Symphony

  • Christian Mikutta
  • Andreas Altorfer
  • Werner Strik
  • Thomas Koenig
Original Paper


Music is capable of inducing emotional arousal. While previous studies used brief musical excerpts to induce one specific emotion, the current study aimed to identify the physiological correlates of continuous changes in subjective emotional states while listening to a complete music piece. A total of 19 participants listened to the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 5th symphony (duration: ~7.4 min), during which a continuous 76-channel EEG was recorded. In a second session, the subjects evaluated their emotional arousal during the listening. A fast fourier transform was performed and covariance maps of spectral power were computed in association with the subjective arousal ratings. Subjective arousal ratings had good inter-individual correlations. Covariance maps showed a right-frontal suppression of lower alpha-band activity during high arousal. The results indicate that music is a powerful arousal-modulating stimulus. The temporal dynamics of the piece are well suited for sequential analysis, and could be necessary in helping unfold the full emotional power of music.


Arousal Emotion Music EEG Frontal alpha-asymmetry 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Mikutta
    • 1
  • Andreas Altorfer
    • 2
  • Werner Strik
    • 1
  • Thomas Koenig
    • 2
  1. 1.University Hospital of PsychiatryUniversity of BernBern 60Switzerland
  2. 2.University Hospital of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatric NeurophysiologyUniversity of BernBern 60Switzerland

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