Impaired pitch perception and memory in congenital amusia: The deficit starts in the auditory cortex
ABSTRACT Congenital amusia is a lifelong disorder of music perception and production. The present study investigated the cerebral bases of impaired pitch perception and memory in congenital amusia using behavioural measures, magnetoencephalography and voxel-based morphometry. Congenital amusics and matched control subjects performed two melodic tasks (a melodic contour task and an easier transposition task); they had to indicate whether sequences of six tones (presented in pairs) were the same or different. Behavioural data indicated that in comparison with control participants, amusics' short-term memory was impaired for the melodic contour task, but not for the transposition task. The major finding was that pitch processing and short-term memory deficits can be traced down to amusics' early brain responses during encoding of the melodic information. Temporal and frontal generators of the N100m evoked by each note of the melody were abnormally recruited in the amusic brain. Dynamic causal modelling of the N100m further revealed decreased intrinsic connectivity in both auditory cortices, increased lateral connectivity between auditory cortices as well as a decreased right fronto-temporal backward connectivity in amusics relative to control subjects. Abnormal functioning of this fronto-temporal network was also shown during the retention interval and the retrieval of melodic information. In particular, induced gamma oscillations in right frontal areas were decreased in amusics during the retention interval. Using voxel-based morphometry, we confirmed morphological brain anomalies in terms of white and grey matter concentration in the right inferior frontal gyrus and the right superior temporal gyrus in the amusic brain. The convergence between functional and structural brain differences strengthens the hypothesis of abnormalities in the fronto-temporal pathway of the amusic brain. Our data provide first evidence of altered functioning of the auditory cortices during pitch perception and memory in congenital amusia. They further support the hypothesis that in neurodevelopmental disorders impacting high-level functions (here musical abilities), abnormalities in cerebral processing can be observed in early brain responses.
- SourceAvailable from: Isabelle Peretz
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- "Another, not mutually exclusive explanation is that our findings are the result of impaired top-down attentional monitoring (originating from the attentional hubs located in the frontal lobes). There is substantial evidence that backward propagation from the inferior frontal gyrus to the auditory cortex is dysfunctional in amusics (Hyde et al., 2011; Albouy et al., 2013). This poor frontotemporal connectivity may compromise normal shaping of auditory responses in both the auditory cortex and the brainstem. "
ABSTRACT: Congenital amusia is a neurogenetic condition, characterized by a deficit in music perception and production, not explained by hearing loss, brain damage or lack of exposure to music. Despite inferior musical performance, amusics exhibit normal auditory cortical responses, with abnormal neural correlates suggested to lie beyond auditory cortices. Here we show, using auditory brainstem responses to complex sounds in humans, that fine-grained automatic processing of sounds is impoverished in amusia. Compared to matched non-musician controls, spectral amplitude was decreased in amusics for higher harmonic components of the auditory brainstem response. We also found a delayed response to the early transient aspects of the auditory stimulus in amusics. Neural measures of spectral amplitude and response timing correlated with participants' behavioral assessments of music processing. We demonstrate, for the first time, that amusia affects how complex acoustic signals are processed in the auditory brainstem. This neural signature of amusia mirrors what is observed in musicians, such that the aspects of the auditory brainstem responses that are enhanced in musicians are degraded in amusics. By showing that gradients of music abilities are reflected in the auditory brainstem, our findings have implications not only for current models of amusia but also for auditory functioning in general. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.European Journal of Neuroscience 04/2015; DOI:10.1111/ejn.12931
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ABSTRACT: Congenital amusia is a musical disorder that mainly affects pitch perception. Among Mandarin speakers, some amusics also have difficulties in processing lexical tones (tone agnosics). To examine to what extent these perceptual deficits may be related to pitch production impairments in music and Mandarin speech, eight amusics, eight tone agnosics, and 12 age- and IQ-matched normal native Mandarin speakers were asked to imitate music note sequences and Mandarin words of comparable lengths. The results indicated that both the amusics and tone agnosics underperformed the controls on musical pitch production. However, tone agnosics performed no worse than the amusics, suggesting that lexical tone perception deficits may not aggravate musical pitch production difficulties. Moreover, these three groups were all able to imitate lexical tones with perfect intelligibility. Taken together, the current study shows that perceptual musical pitch and lexical tone deficits might coexist with musical pitch production difficulties. But at the same time these perceptual pitch deficits might not affect lexical tone production or the intelligibility of the speech words that were produced. The perception-production relationship for pitch among individuals with perceptual pitch deficits may be, therefore, domain-dependent.Frontiers in Psychology 01/2013; 4:1024. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.01024
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ABSTRACT: Olfactory function in healthy people correlates with structural features of both the olfactory bulb and higher order olfactory processing areas, but we do not yet know how congenital anosmia affects these latter structures. In order to examine this question closer, we acquired T1 weighted magnetic resonance images from 17 subjects with congenital anosmia and from 17 age- and sex- matched controls. We compared white and grey matter volumes as well as cortical thickness between both groups. We found subjects with congenital anosmia to exhibit larger grey matter volumes in the left entorhinal and piriform cortices. Further, they had thicker orbitofrontal cortices bilaterally. Their left piriform cortex was also thicker than that of controls. These findings are in contrast to those observed in acquired anosmia, where reduced olfactory function is associated with reduced volumes and thickness. However, they fit well with observations from other sensory systems, e.g., vision, where congenital sensory loss is associated with a thicker primary cortex. This finding has been attributed to reduced or absent synaptic pruning as a result of missing peripheral sensory input. Our findings suggest that similar mechanisms take place in the olfactory system.NeuroImage 08/2013; 83. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.07.070