Emotional bias for the perception of rising tones Articles uri icon

publication date

  • May 2008


  • 5


  • 123

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0001-4966

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-8524


  • Sounds with rising and falling intensity are often perceived, respectively, as approaching or receding sound sources. Research has shown the existence of biases both at perceptual and neural levels towards approaching versus receding sounds. It has been suggested that these effects might be accounted to a greater biological salience of approaching sounds. In the present study we investigated whether this asymmetry could be also explained by emotional theories. Approaching and receding tones, followed by neutral, negative or positive photographs, were presented. Participants were required to make a speeded three‐alternative forced choice (3AFC) task regarding their feelings towards the photographs. Reaction times (RTs) to this task, together with self‐reported valence (pleasantness) and arousal (activation) ratings for the photographs were collected. In addition, participants' electrodermal activity (EDA) and facial electromyography (EMG) when listening to the sounds were measured. Participants responded faster to photographs preceded by approaching tones, especially for photographs with a negative emotional content. Both the intensity range and the period of intensity change of the sounds had a significant effect in RTs. Taken together, these results suggest that approaching sounds induce a greater emotional response on listeners, which might modulate subsequent attentional and perceptual processes.