Music Listening Modulates Functional Connectivity and Information Flow in the Human Brain

Christof Karmonik, Anthony Brandt, Jeff R. Anderson, Forrest Brooks, Julie Lytle, Elliott Silverman, Jefferson Todd Frazier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Listening to familiar music has recently been reported to be beneficial during recovery from stroke. A better understanding of changes in functional connectivity and information flow is warranted to further optimize and target this approach through music therapy. Twelve healthy volunteers listened to seven different auditory samples during an fMRI scanning session: a musical piece chosen by the volunteer that evokes a strong emotional response (referred to as: "self-selected emotional"), two unfamiliar music pieces (Invention #1 by J. S. Bach and Gagaku-Japanese classical opera, referred to as "unfamiliar"), the Bach piece repeated with visual guidance (directed music listening [DML]), and three spoken language pieces (unfamiliar African click language, an excerpt of emotionally charged language, and an unemotional reading of a news bulletin). Functional connectivity and betweenness maps, a measure for information flow, were created with a graph-theoretical approach. Distinct variation in functional connectivity was found for different auditory samples consistently for all subjects. Largest brain areas were recruited for processing self-selected emotional music or culturally unfamiliar music. Maps of information flow correlated significantly with fMRI blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) activation maps (p <0.05). Observed differences in BOLD activation and functional connectivity may help explain previously observed beneficial effects in stroke recovery, as increased blood flow to damaged brain areas stimulated by active engagement through music listening may have supported a state more conducive to therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-641
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Connectivity
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • functional connectivity
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • graph network analysis
  • music listening
  • music therapy
  • spoken language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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