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Cracking the emotional code of music (CREAM)
Start date: Oct 1, 2014, End date: Sep 30, 2019 PROJECT  ONGOING 

"This project aims to ""crack"" the emotional code of music, i.e. to provide, for the first time, a precise characterization of what type of music signal is able to activate one emotion or another. Research into this problem so far has been mainly correlating indistinct emotional reactions to uncontrolled musical stimuli, with much technical sophistication but to little avail. Project CREAM builds on the PI's unique bi-disciplinary career spanning both computer science and cognitive neuroscience, to propose a radically novel approach: instead of using audio signal processing to simply observe musical stimuli a posteriori, we will harvest a series of recent developments in the field to build powerful new tools of experimental control, able to engineer musical stimuli that can activate specific emotional pathways (e.g. music manipulated to sound like expressive speech, or to sound like survival-relevant environmental sounds).By combining this creative use of new technologies with a well-concerted mix of methods from experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience (incl. psychoacoustics, fNIRS brain imaging, EEG/ERP paradigms, intercultural studies, infant studies), project CREAM will yield the first functional description of the neural and cognitive processes involved in the induction of emotions by music, and establish new avenues for interdisciplinary research between the life sciences and the information sciences.But most spectacularly, the fundamental breakthroughs brought by project CREAM will unlatch the therapeutic potential of musical emotions. Music will become a cognitive technology, with algorithms able to ""engineer"" it to mobilize one neuronal pathway or another, non-intrusively and non-pharmacologically. Within the proposed 5-year plan, support from the ERC will allow to implement a series of high-impact clinical studies with are direct applications of our findings, e.g. for the linguistic rehabilitation of aphasic stroke victims."

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