Recently, studies have shown that people with musical training are better at picking out emotional cues in sound than people without the same musical background.
A team of neuroscientists at Northwestern University compared the auditory brainstem responses of musicians and non-musicians to different emotion-laden human sounds, like crying babies.
The results were not exactly what the researchers expected. They found that musicians’ brainstems paid attention to a more complex part of the sound known to carry more emotional elements. But their brains tended to de-emphasize the simpler part of the sound, which carries less emotional content. This wasn’t true for non-musicians.
The more musical experience and training a musician had, the more their nervous systems seemed able to process emotion in sound. The auditory centers in their brainstems showed a greater response than those of the non-musicians to these complex sound cues.