A new study says that language based areas of the brain, primarily on the left, are important for extracting emotional meaning from music.
Our emotions and feelings are typically linked with the right side of the brain. For example, processing the emotion in human facial expressions is done in the right hemisphere.
However, the new study is challenging the widely-held view that emotions and feelings are the domain of the right hemisphere only, the journal Neuropsychologia reports.
"It's known that processing whether a face is happy or sad is impaired in people who lose key regions of the right hemisphere, as happens in people with Alzheimer's and semantic dementia," says Sharpley Hsieh of Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), who led the study.
Semantic dementia is the progressive loss of the ability to remember the meaning of words, faces and objects, resulting from shrinkage of the brain's lobes.
"What we have now learnt from looking at people with semantic dementia is that understanding emotions in music involves key parts of the other side of the brain as well," she says, according to a NeuRA statement.
"Our findings suggest that the brain considers melodies and speech to be similar and that overlapping parts of the brain are required for both," adds Hsieh.