DOI: 10.1162/netn_a_00333 ISSN:

Age-related variability in network engagement during music listening

S. Faber, A. G. Belden, P. Loui, A. R. McIntosh
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • General Neuroscience


Listening to music is an enjoyable behaviour that engages multiple networks of brain regions. As such, the act of music listening may offer a way to interrogate network activity, and to examine the reconfigurations of brain networks that have been observed in healthy aging. The present study is an exploratory examination of brain network dynamics during music listening in healthy older and younger adults. Network measures were extracted and analyzed together with behavioural data using a combination of hidden Markov modelling and partial least squares. We found age- and preference-related differences in fMRI data collected during music listening in healthy younger and older adults. Both age groups showed higher occupancy (the proportion of time a network was active) in a temporal-mesolimbic network while listening to self-selected music. Activity in this network was strongly positively correlated with liking and familiarity ratings in younger adults, but less so in older adults. Additionally, older adults showed a higher degree of correlation between liking and familiarity ratings consistent with past behavioural work on age-related dedifferentiation. We conclude that, while older adults do show network and behaviour patterns consistent with dedifferentiation, activity in the temporal-mesolimbic network is relatively robust to dedifferentiation. These findings may help explain how music listening remains meaningful and rewarding in old age.

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