Discrete cortical regions associated with the musical beauty of major and minor chords

Miho Kitamura*, Nobuyuki Okamura, Yousuke Kawachi, Manabu Tashiro, Hiroshi Arao, Takayuki Hoshishiba, Jiro Gyoba, Kazuhiko Yanai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has demonstrated that the degree of aesthetic pleasure a person experiences correlates with the activation of reward functions in the brain. However, it is unclear whether different affective qualities and the perceptions of beauty that they evoke correspond to specific areas of brain activation. Major and minor musical keys induce two types of affective qualities-bright/happy and dark/sad - that both evoke aesthetic pleasure. In the present study, we used positron emission tomography to demonstrate that the two musical keys (major and minor) activate distinct brain areas. Minor consonant chords perceived as beautiful strongly activated the right striatum, which has been assumed to play an important role in reward and emotion processing, whereas major consonant chords perceived as beautiful induced significant activity in the left middle temporal gyrus, which is believed to be related to coherent and orderly information processing. These results suggest that major and minor keys, both of which are perceived as beautiful, are processed differently in the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-131
Number of pages6
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jun
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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