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“When the feeling’s gone”: a selective loss of musical emotion
  1. T D Griffiths1,2,
  2. J D Warren1,2,
  3. J L Dean1,
  4. D Howard3
  1. 1Auditory Group, University of Newcastle Medical School, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
  2. 2Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Speech, University of Newcastle, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 T D Griffiths
 Auditory Group, University of Newcastle Medical School, Framlington Place, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE2 4HH, UK;

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Loss of “feeling” is a common lament in popular music:

Tragedy: when the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on (Tragedy as performed by the Bee Gees. Spirits have flown, 1979.)

Here we describe loss of the feeling or emotion produced by music itself. Musical emotion can be considered at a number of levels. At the most fundamental level, dissonance produces a perception that is unpleasant to most listeners.1 More variable is the intense pleasure that certain music may evoke in particular listeners, often described as a “shiver down the spine” or “chills”,2 which is likely to represent a more complex aesthetic response. We describe a patient with selective loss of this emotional response to music, due to a focal brain lesion.

A 52 year old right handed radio announcer collapsed in February 2000. He was found afterwards to have a total loss of speech comprehension and output, and a right hemiplegia. His speech recovered well, such that 12 months after the event he had only subtle output phonological problems. Motor functions recovered completely and he had no residual lateralising motor signs. However, he reported a …

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