Neural Correlates of Music-Evoked Nostalgia Across the Lifespan
School/Affiliation:University of Southern California
Co-Authors:Petr Janata, Assal Habibi
Virtual or In-person:In-person
Nostalgia is a mixed emotion that is often evoked by music. Nostalgic music may induce temporary improvements in autobiographical memory in individuals with and without cognitive decline. However, the neural mechanism underlying this music-evoked emotion and its associated memory improvements is not clear. Additionally, methodological constraints including the lack of personally-tailored and experimentally controlled stimuli, have limited our systematic understanding of such a mechanism. In this study, we utilized a novel method to identify personalized nostalgic, familiar non-nostalgic, and unfamiliar stimuli that are matched for musical features. In a sample of 57 participants (29 aged 18-35; 28 aged 60 and older), we investigated the functional neural correlates of music-evoked nostalgia using fMRI. Nostalgia-evoking music, greater than familiar, non-nostalgic music, was associated with bilateral activity in the default mode network (medial and ventromedial prefrontal cortices; v/mPFC, posteromedial cortices; PMC), reward regions (ventral tegmental area, caudate, putamen), medial temporal lobe (MTL), and cerebellum (bilateral Crus I, Lobules VI, I-IV, Vermis X). We also observed bilateral activity in the superior frontal gyrus, intracalcarine cortex, and anterior cingulate. In a priori-selected regions of interest, percent signal change from rest was significantly greater in the nostalgia condition than control conditions in the bilateral mPFC, left PMC, and right VTA. Planned additional analyses will assess the functional connectivity changes associated with nostalgia-evoking music, and changes across the lifespan. Findings may serve as a foundation for understanding the neural basis of music-evoked nostalgia in future clinical populations.