I have been studying musical "tension." Musical tension essentially refers to the "expectations" one builds up in a melody that are then "released" when a stimulus matching the expectation occurs. For example, if you play the white notes on a piano in order CDEFGAB, you have a "tension" that motivates you to finish the scale and play C to complete the pattern.

I am aware pattern completion occurs in the brain and have seen a few biological models of this. For example, with attractor network models of human memory. So I am not surprised obviously that pattern completion occurs. But this example with musical tension highlights how there is an emotion (aka drive or motivation) that compels me to complete the pattern. When I hear the sequence CDEFGAB, I am compelled to finish the sequence.

My Question

Can someone provide me of examples of canonical models of emotions influence on pattern completion? I would like to learn example mechanisms as to how, on a circuit level, emotion would influence pattern completion. I am particularly interested in examples relating to common forms of human creativity like visual art, problem-solving, etc., but any examples will do.

  • $\begingroup$ This question should also be suitable for cogsci.stackexchange.com, and users there might be able to offer a different perspective. $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Sep 10 '15 at 7:36

This "tension" is actually called anticipation in neurobiology and related fields. Whole purpose of this is to get higher reward. This is generally happens because of dopamine release. Many musicians have utilized this 'anticipation' technique in their compositions. Famous example is Led Zeppelin's stairways to heaven in which audience is 'anticipating' third part of song where Page's guitar in high tempo. Anatomically distinct dopamine release happens during anticipation and one will experience of peak emotion to music. You can read this paper for experiments related to this. This paper's introduction has given reference to many of such research papers. Go through it's references.

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