The Role of the Mirror System in Influencing Musicians’ Evaluation of Musical Creativity: A tDCS Study

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Evidence reported in the literature suggests that the mirror system not only plays a role in recognizing motor action, but it also fosters a better understanding of other people because it helps an individual assume another’s perspective. This led to the idea, supported by research findings, that people with higher empathy scores should show higher activation of the mirror system. Recently it has been hypothesized that a purely auditory mirror system exists. In this study, we aimed to explore the possibility that this system might play a particular role for musicians. Specifically, this system would impact their response to a new piece of music by using non-invasive brain stimulation to modulate the activation of the mirror system. A sample of 40 young musicians was involved in this pilot study. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to a cathodal stimulation condition, while the other half was used as control. After listening to a new piece of music, participants were asked to rate the creativity of the piece (by focusing on how interesting, innovative, and exciting the piece was) as well as their general emotional response to it. Their empathy levels were also assessed using the IRI. Results showed that the cathodal stimulation of the mirror system negatively affected both the ratings of innovation and the excitement response to the music. There was no significant difference in the ratings of how interesting the piece was perceived. The effect was mediated by the individuals' level of empathy. Specifically, empathic concern and fantasy increased the evaluation of creativity. Results also showed that participants reported less emotion with a negative valence in the cathodal stimulation condition.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)1-8
Numero di pagine8
RivistaFrontiers in Neuroscience
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021


  • creativity
  • music


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