Back to Journals » Journal of Pain Research » Volume 13

Sad Music Modulates Pain Perception: An EEG Study

Authors Guo S, Lu J, Wang Y, Li Y, Huang B, Zhang Y, Gong W, Yao D, Yuan Y, Xia Y

Received 26 May 2020

Accepted for publication 23 July 2020

Published 7 August 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 2003—2012


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael Schatman

Sijia Guo1,2 ,* Jing Lu,1– 3,* Yufang Wang,2 Yuqin Li,2 Binxin Huang,2 Yuxin Zhang,2 Wenhui Gong,2 Dezhong Yao,1– 3 Yin Yuan,1 Yang Xia1– 3

1The Clinical Hospital of Chengdu Brain Science Institute, MOE Key Laboratory for Neuroinformation, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu, People’s Republic of China; 2Center for Information in BioMedicine, School of Life Science and Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu, People’s Republic of China; 3Research Unit of NeuroInformation, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, 2019RU035, Chengdu, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Yin Yuan; Yang Xia Email;

Background: Music has shown positive effects on pain management in previous studies. However, the relationship between musical emotional types and therapeutic effects remains unclear. To investigate this issue, this study tested three typical emotional types of music and discussed their neural mechanisms in relation to pain modulation.
Subjects and Methods: In this experiment, 40 participants were exposed to cold pain under four conditions: listening to happy music, listening to neutral music, listening to sad music and no sound. EEG and pain thresholds were recorded. The participants were divided into the remission group and the nonremission group for analysis. Differences among conditions were quantified by the duration of exposure to the pain-inducing stimulus in the remission group. EEG data were obtained using a fast Fourier transform (FFT) and then correlated with the behavioral data.
Results: We found that sad music had a significantly better effect on alleviating pain, as a result of brain oscillations in a higher beta band and the gamma band at the O2 and P4 electrodes. The comparison between the remission group and the nonremission group suggested that personality may affect music-induced analgesia, and dominance, liveliness and introvert and extrovert personality traits were associated with pain modulation by sad music. Additionally, in the network analysis, we compared brain networks under the three conditions and discussed the possible mechanisms underlying the better analgesic effect of sad music.
Conclusion: Sad music may have a better effect on alleviating pain, and its neural mechanisms are also discussed. This work may help understand the effects of music on pain modulation, which also has potential value for clinical use.

Keywords: pain, music-induced analgesia, personality, EEG, brain network

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]