DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2022.0421 ISSN: 0962-8436

A model of time-varying music engagement

Diana Omigie, Iris Mencke
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology

The current paper offers a model of time-varying music engagement, defined as changes in curiosity, attention and positive valence, as music unfolds over time. First, we present research (including new data) showing that listeners tend to allocate attention to music in a manner that is guided by both features of the music and listeners' individual differences. Next, we review relevant predictive processing literature before using this body of work to inform our model. In brief, we propose that music engagement, over the course of an extended listening episode, may constitute several cycles of curiosity, attention and positive valence that are interspersed with moments of mind-wandering. Further, we suggest that refocusing on music after an episode of mind-wandering can be due to triggers in the music or, conversely, mental action that occurs when the listener realizes they are mind-wandering. Finally, we argue that factors that modulate both overall levels of music engagement and how it changes over time include music complexity, listener background and the listening context. Our paper highlights how music can be used to provide insights into the temporal dynamics of attention and into how curiosity might emerge in everyday contexts.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Art, aesthetics and predictive processing: theoretical and empirical perspectives’.

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