Thematic Contents of Mental Imagery are Shaped by Concurrent Task-Irrelevant Music

Liila Taruffi*, Ceren Ayyildiz, Steffen A. Herff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Imagination plays a key role in evidence-based, cognitive therapies, and recent research highlights that music – a perceptual stimulus imbued with affective and social meaning – can influence some aspects of imagination, such as vividness and emotional tone. However, little is known about music's capability to facilitate specific imagery themes that may be relevant for therapy. Here, we examine whether the quantity and quality (related to themes of affect, social dynamics, and confidence) of people's imagery is affected by the presence of task-irrelevant background music. One hundred participants imagined the continuation of a figure's journey while listening to different musical excerpts or silence. Written reports of imagined journeys underwent linguistic analysis to reveal the number of words belonging to the themes of interest. Bayesian Mixed Effects models revealed that music (vs. silence) led to longer reports and predicted imagery characterised by affect, social dynamics, and confidence. Implications for therapy are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-192
Number of pages24
JournalImagination, Cognition and Personality
Issue number2
Early online date9 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • affect
  • imagination
  • linguistic analysis
  • mental imagery
  • music
  • social dynamics


Dive into the research topics of 'Thematic Contents of Mental Imagery are Shaped by Concurrent Task-Irrelevant Music'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this