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Music is an important form of communication between mother and child, conveying emotion in the voice. Infants are exposed to a specific style of music which is primarily provided by the mother’s speech and singing. Recent research has focused on the development of the perception of emotion in music in infancy. This study investigated infants' ability to accurately perceive an emotion expressed through music. The study used happy, sad and fearful music along with a pair of different emotional faces in an intermodal matching experiment with 7-month-old infants. Twenty-seven infants (M age = 216.3 days, SD = 9.45, 15 females) saw pairs of faces in two conditions: baseline silence and accompanied by music. Analysis of the baseline silence results showed no significant preference for any emotional faces F (2, 42.21) = .54, p = .55 . In the music condition, there was a main effect of Music type F (2,52) = 4.89, p = .01. Infants looked for longer at the screen when happy music was playing. There was also an interaction between music type and emotional pairing F (1, 26) = 9.72, p = .004. In neither condition was a consistent preference found for either congruent or incongruent facial expressions. No other effects or interactions were significant. Taken together, the findings of this study suggest that infants of this age are unable to match the emotional tone of music with related facial expressions.
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