Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, the present study investigated how listening to differently valenced music is associated with changes in hemoglobin concentrations in the prefrontal cortex area, indicating changes in neural activity. Thirty healthy people (15 men; M age = 24.8 yr., SD = 2.4; 15 women; M age = 25.2 yr., SD = 3.1) participated. Prefrontal cortex activation, emotional responses (heart rate variability), and self-reported affective ratings were measured while listening to calm and motivational music. The songs were presented in a random counterbalanced order and separated by periods of white noise. Mixed-model repeatedmeasures analysis of variance (ANOVA) evaluated the relationships for main effects and interactions. The results showed that music was associated with increased activation of the prefrontal cortex area. For both sexes, listening to the motivational song was associated with higher vagal withdrawal (lower HR) than the calm song. As expected, participants rated the motivational song with greater affective valence and higher arousal. Effects persisted longer in men than in women. These findings suggest that both the characteristics of music and sex differences may significantly affect the results of emotional neuroimaging in samples of young adults.
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