Shared affective motion experience (SAME) and creative, interactive music therapy

Istvan Molnar-Szakacs*, Vanya Green Assuied, Katie Overy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

One of the most exciting recent developments to emerge from cognitive neuroscience, with the potential to impact significantly both on our understanding of music and of the therapeutic uses of music, is the discovery of the so-called human mirror neuron system (MNS). In essence, the MNS allows us to understand and predict the behaviour of others, by engaging the neural regions required to produce such behaviour ourselves. A working model has recently been developed of the potential role of the MNS in emotional, embodied responses to music, called Shared Affective Motion Experience (SAME). According to the SAME model, musical sound is perceived not only in terms of the auditory signal, but also in terms of the intentional sequences of expressive motor acts behind the signal. Thus, even a simple musical listening experience carries within it the presence of human action and human agency, and can facilitate feelings of empathy and social bonding. This chapter elaborates upon and extends the argument in relation to creative, interactive music-therapy. It suggests that the situation of shared music-making is a sophisticated example of the potential of music to express emotion and stimulate empathetic understanding.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMusical Imaginations
Subtitle of host publicationMultidisciplinary Perspectives on Creativity, Performance and Perception
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191731044
ISBN (Print)9780199568086
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2011

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Empathy
  • Human mirror neuron system
  • Shared affective motion experience
  • Social bonding


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