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.
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