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An infant's cry is one of the most emotionally salient sounds in our environment. Depression is known to disrupt a mother's ability to respond to her infant, but it is not well-understood why such difficulties arise. One reason might be that depression disrupts the perceptual abilities necessary to interpret infant's affective cues. Given that musicians are known to have enhanced auditory perception, we assessed whether depression and previous musical training can impact on the ability to interpret distress in infant cries, as manipulated by changes in pitch. Depressed participants with musical training demonstrated better discriminative acuity of distress in infant cry bursts compared to those without. Non-depressed participants, with and without musical training, had levels comparable to musicians with depression. We suggest that previous musical training may act as a protective factor that maintains auditory perceptual abilities in the context of depression. These findings have potential implications for the development of novel training interventions to maintain sensitivity to infant vocal cues in individuals with postnatal depression.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1200 - 1205


Adolescent, Adult, Crying, Depression, Humans, Infant, Middle Aged, Music, Pitch Perception, Stress, Psychological, Young Adult