Musical Emotion Perception in Bimodal Patients: Relative Weighting of Musical Mode and Tempo Cues.


Several cues are used to convey musical emotion, the two primary being musical mode and musical tempo. Specifically, major and minor modes tend to be associated with positive and negative valence, respectively, and songs at fast tempi have been associated with more positive valence compared to songs at slow tempi (Balkwill and Thompson, 1999; Webster and Weir, 2005). In Experiment I, we examined the relative weighting of musical tempo and musical mode among adult cochlear implant (CI) users combining electric and contralateral acoustic stimulation, or "bimodal" hearing. Our primary hypothesis was that bimodal listeners would utilize both tempo and mode cues in their musical emotion judgments in a manner similar to normal-hearing listeners. Our secondary hypothesis was that low-frequency (LF) spectral resolution in the non-implanted ear, as quantified via psychophysical tuning curves (PTCs) at 262 and 440 Hz, would be significantly correlated with degree of bimodal benefit for musical emotion perception. In Experiment II, we investigated across-channel spectral resolution using a spectral modulation detection (SMD) task and neural representation of temporal fine structure via the frequency following response (FFR) for a 170-ms /da/ stimulus. Results indicate that CI-alone performance was driven almost exclusively by tempo cues, whereas bimodal listening demonstrated use of both tempo and mode. Additionally, bimodal benefit for musical emotion perception may be correlated with spectral resolution in the non-implanted ear via SMD, as well as neural representation of 0 amplitude via FFR - though further study with a larger sample size is warranted. Thus, contralateral acoustic hearing can offer significant benefit for musical emotion perception, and the degree of benefit may be dependent upon spectral resolution of the non-implanted ear.