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<p>Listening to music represents one of the most pleasurable experiences in human life. At a neural level, such specifically human abstract reward has been shown to strongly modulate the activity of the dopaminergic mesolimbic system. Although several studies highlighted the role of fronto-striatal pathways in musical-evoked pleasure, the implication of prefrontal cortex (PFC) in this network remains almost uninvestigated. In this exploratory study, we employed functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), a promising non-invasive neuroimaging technique, to investigate PFC contributions to musical pleasure.</p> <p>All participants were asked to listen to three kinds music: favorite, liked (i.e., unfamiliar excerpts of a pleasant genre), and disliked (i.e., unfamiliar excerpts of an unpleasant genre). For half of the excerpts of each condition, they actively evaluated their felt pleasure via on-line ratings ; for the other half, they passively listened to music. After each excerpt, participants reported subjective reward experience, as well as arousal, emotional valence and familiarity ratings. Meanwhile, their hemodynamic activity was measured through a 24-channel fNIRS system monitoring the whole PFC. Participants also completed the Barcelona Musical Reward Questionnaire (BMRQ).</p> <p>Our data suggest that the PFC is involved in the evaluation of music-induced pleasure, and that PFC activity is linked to one’s disposition to regulate mood by listening to pleasurable music. Taken together, these results suggest that the PFC may play a role in high-order affective processes that take place in the context of music listening.</p>
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