Psychophysiological response to acoustic intensity change in a musical chord

Kirk N. Olsen, Catherine J. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates psychological and psychophysiological components of arousal and emotional response to a violin chord stimulus comprised of continuous increases (up-ramp) or decreases (down-ramp) of intensity. A factorial experiment manipulated direction of intensity change (60-90 dB SPL up-ramp, 90-60 dB SPL down-ramp) and duration (1.8 s, 3.6 s) within-subjects (N = 45). Dependent variables were ratings of emotional arousal, valence, and loudness change, and a fine-grained analysis of event-related skin conductance response (SCR). As hypothesized, relative to down-ramps, musical up-ramps elicited significantly higher ratings of emotional arousal and loudness change, with marginally longer SCR rise times. However, SCR magnitude was greater in response to musical down-ramps. The implications of acoustic intensity change for music-induced emotion and auditory warning perception are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-26
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Psychophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Arousal
  • Auditory looming
  • Emotion
  • Loudness change
  • Music
  • Skin conductance


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