Universiteit Leiden

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PhD defence

Hearing while Feeling

Tuesday 2 February 2021
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


The idea that perception is a direct reflection of the outer world has been challenged by the notion that information is integrated at all levels of processing, including perceptual levels. Affect has been suggested to be a powerful source of information.

This thesis explored affective influences on auditory perception and processing and what such influences may imply about penetrability of perception. The presented studies found that listeners in a sad mood more frequently judged ambiguous pitch changes as going downwards than in a happy mood. Furthermore, auditory sensitivity in noise was related to the affective reactivity of the listener, but its relation with mood remained inconclusive and should be further explored. Finally, this thesis demonstrated that evaluative conditioning changed affective quality of sounds without changing low-level stimulus features, which future studies into auditory processing of affective sounds can utilize.

Together the findings suggest that aspects of auditory perception are subject to affective influence. This is consistent with the notion that perceptual and non-perceptual information is integrated, allowing listeners to form percepts from often noisy, incomplete, or ambiguous auditory input. The findings provide a basis and stimulation to further investigate where in the brain and through which mechanisms this integration occurs.


  • Prof. B. Hommel
  • Prof. P.J.M. Stallen

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD candidates are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact (only for journalists) 

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

Practical questions:

Pedel's office (+31 71 572 7211) 

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