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Complexity matching: brain signals mirror environment information patterns during music listening and reward
Understanding how the human brain integrates information from the environment with ongoing, internal brain signals in order to produce individual perspective is an essential element of understanding the human mind. Brain signal complexity, measured with multiscale entropy, has been employed as a measure of information processing in the brain (Carpentier et al., 2016), and we propose that it can also be used to measure the information available from a stimulus. We can directly assess the correspondence, or functional isomorphism, between brain signal complexity and stimulus complexity as an indication of how well the brain reflects the content of the environment in an analysis that we termed complexity matching. Music makes an ideal stimulus input because it is a multidimensional, complex signal, and because of its emotion and reward-inducing potential. We found that electroencephalography (EEG) complexity was lower and more closely resembled the musical complexity when participants performed a perceptual task that required them to closely track the acoustics, compared to an emotional task that asked them to think about how the music made them feel. Music-derived reward scores on the Barcelona Music Reward Questionnaire (Mas-Herrero et al., 2013) correlated with worse complexity matching and higher EEG complexity. Compared to perceptual-level processing, emotional and reward responses are associated with additional internal information processes above and beyond those in the external stimulus.
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