Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Detecting the Adaptation of Listeners' Respiration to Heard Music
by Upham, Finn, Ph.D., New York University, 2018, 440; 10932754
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores the surprising phenomenon of listeners' unconsciously breathing in time to music, inspiring and expiring at select moments of specific works. When and how the experience of hearing music might produce stimulus-synchronous respiratory events is studied through Repeated Response Case Studies, gathering participants' respiratory sequences during repeated listenings to recorded music, and through Audience Response Experiments, responses for participants experiencing live music together in a concert hall.

Activity Analysis, a new statistical technique, supported the development and definition of discrete phase components of the breath cycle that come into coordination: the onsets of inspiration and expiration, the intervals of high flow during these two main phases, and the post-expiration pause. Alignment in these components across listenings illuminate when the naturalistic complex stimuli can attract or cue listener respiration events.

Four patterns of respiratory phase alignment are identified through detailed analysis of stimuli and responses. Participants inspired with the inspirations of vocalists and wind performers, suggesting embodied perception and imagined action may exert influence on their quiet breathing. Participants suppressed and delayed inspirations when the music was highly unpredictable, suggesting adaptation in aid of auditory attention. Similar behaviour occurred with sustained sounds of exceptional aesthetic value. Participants inspired with recurring motivic material and similar high salience events, as if marking them in recognition or amplifying their affective impact. And finally, participants occasionally breathed following structural endings, suggesting a sigh-like function of releasing the respiratory system from cortical control.

These instances of music-aligned respiratory phase alignment seemed to be stronger in participants who were typically active with heard music, but the impacts of training and expertise was not a simple condition for this behaviour. Contrasts between case study participants showed highly idiosyncratic patterns of respiratory alignment and differences in susceptibility along side moments of shared effect. In the audience experiments, alignment within phase components was measurable and significant, but rarely involved more than a quarter of participants in any given instance. These levels of concurrent activity in respiration underline the subtlety of this bodily response to music.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Farbood, Morwaread M.
Commitee: Poeppel, David, Rapoport, David
School: New York University
Department: Music and Performing Arts Professions
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 80/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Neurosciences, Music, Quantitative psychology
Keywords: Music, Music listening, Nonparametric statistics, Psychophysiology, Respiration, Respiratory phase alignment
Publication Number: 10932754
ISBN: 9780438531185
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