Does familiarity facilitate the cortical processing of music sounds?

ArticleinNeuroreport 15(16):2471-5 · November 2004with11 Reads
DOI: 10.1097/00001756-200411150-00008 · Source: PubMed
Abstract
Automatic cortical sound discrimination, as indexed by the mismatch negativity (MMN) component of the auditory evoked potential, is facilitated for familiar speech sounds (phonemes). In musicians as compared to non-musicians, an enhanced MMN has been observed for complex non-speech sounds. Here, musically trained subjects were presented with sequences of either familiar (tonal) or structurally matched unfamiliar (atonal) triad chords, both with either fixed or randomly transposed chord root pitch. The MMN elicited by deviant chords did not differ for familiar and unfamiliar triad sequences, and was undiminished even to unfamiliar deviant sounds which were consciously undetectable. Only subsequent attention-related components indicated facilitated cognitive processing of familiar sounds, corresponding to higher behavioral detection scores.
    • "More specifically, a long-term training effect on temporal processing has been found by Jongsma et al. (2005) reporting higher N150 amplitudes time-locked to an auditory temporal omission. Yet, there are studies that do not find training effects in auditory processing of pure tones, familiar or unfamiliar chords, or the violation of temporal irregularity (Lutkenhoner et al., 2006; Neuloh and Curio, 2004;). Thus, it appears that the literature on this matter is yet inconclusive and that possible training differences might occur, although not in every aspect of temporal processing. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The two main characteristics of temporal structuring in music are meter and rhythm. The present experiment investigated the event-related potentials (ERP) of these two structural elements with a focus on differential effects of attended and unattended processing. The stimulus material consisted of an auditory rhythm presented repetitively to subjects in which metrical and rhythmical changes as well as pitch changes were inserted. Subjects were to detect and categorize either temporal changes (attended condition) or pitch changes (unattended condition). Furthermore, we compared a group of long-term trained subjects (musicians) to non-musicians. As expected, behavioural data revealed that trained subjects performed significantly better than untrained subjects. This effect was mainly due to the better detection of the meter deviants. Rhythm as well as meter changes elicited an early negative deflection compared to standard tones in the attended processing condition, while in the unattended processing condition only the rhythm change elicited this negative deflection. Both effects were found across all experimental subjects with no difference between the two groups. Thus, our data suggest that meter and rhythm perception could differ with respect to the time course of processing and lend credence to the notion of different neurophysiological processes underlying the auditory perception of rhythm and meter in music. Furthermore, the data indicate that non-musicians are as proficient as musicians when it comes to rhythm perception, suggesting that correct rhythm perception is crucial not only for musicians but for every individual.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2008
    • "Neuloh and Curio (2004) indeed compared the discrimination by musically trained subjects of nonprototypical dissonant chords inserted in a dissonant context with their discrimination of stereotypical consonant chords inserted in a consonant context . They found that the MMN did not differ between the two experimental conditions showing the sophistication of the musicians' auditory system in automatically discriminating stereotypical chords as well as chord categories less often encountered in Western tonal music (Neuloh & Curio, 2004). The study did not, however, directly contrast brain responses of subjects with different levels of musical expertise, leaving open the issue of whether and how formal musical training modulates chord category discrimination. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: At the level of the auditory cortex, musicians discriminate pitch changes more accurately than nonmusicians. However, it is not agreed upon how sound familiarity and musical expertise interact in the formation of pitch-change discrimination skills, that is, whether musicians possess musical pitch discrimination abilities that are generally more accurate than in nonmusicians or, alternatively, whether they may be distinguished from nonmusicians particularly with respect to the discrimination of nonprototypical sounds that do not play a reference role in Western tonal music. To resolve this, we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to measure the change-related magnetic mismatch response (MMNm) in musicians and nonmusicians to two nonprototypical chords, a "dissonant" chord containing a highly unpleasant interval and a "mistuned" chord including a mistuned pitch, and a minor chord, all inserted in a context of major chords. Major and minor are the most frequently used chords in Western tonal music which both musicians and nonmusicians are most familiar with, whereas the other chords are more rarely encountered in tonal music. The MMNm was stronger in musicians than in nonmusicians in response to the dissonant and mistuned chords, whereas no group difference was found in the MMNm strength to minor chords. Correspondingly, the length of musical training correlated with the MMNm strength for the dissonant and mistuned chords only. Our findings provide evidence for superior automatic discrimination of nonprototypical chords in musicians. Most likely, this results from a highly sophisticated auditory system in musicians allowing a more efficient discrimination of chords deviating from the conventional categories of tonal music.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2008
    • "This indicated that those subjects possessed implicit knowledge during the time between the neurophysiological and behavioral change. In addition, Allen, Kraus, and Bradlow (2000) showed that speech-sound differences too small to be consciously perceptible (subliminal) could elicit an MMN, and a few times it has been reported that missed deviants in a detection task can elicit an MMN (Neuloh & Curio, 2004; Alho & Sinervo, 1997). Taken together with our results, we can conclude that MMN elicitation does not necessarily always correspond with the ability to perceptually discriminate deviants from standards, which indicates that the sensory memory of acoustic regularities can be implicit.Figure 3. ERPs elicited in the Ignore II condition for the subjects expressing explicit knowledge (A) and for the subjects expressing intuitive knowledge (B). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Implicit knowledge has been proposed to be the substrate of intuition because intuitive judgments resemble implicit processes. We investigated whether the automatically elicited mismatch negativity (MMN) component of the auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) can reflect implicit knowledge and whether this knowledge can be utilized for intuitive sound discrimination. We also determined the sensitivity of the attention-and task-dependent P3 component to intuitive versus explicit knowledge. We recorded the ERPs elicited in an "abstract" oddball paradigm. Tone pairs roving over different frequencies but with a constant ascending inter-pair interval, were presented as frequent standard events. The standards were occasionally replaced by deviating, descending tone pairs. The ERPs were recorded under both ignore and attend conditions. Subjects were interviewed and classified on the basis of whether or not they could datect the deviants. The deviants elicited an MMN even in subjects who subsequent to the MMN recording did not express awareness of the deviants. This suggests that these subjects possessed implicit knowledge of the sound-sequence structure. Some of these subjects learned, in an associative training session, to detect the deviants intuitively, that is, they could detect the deviants but did not give a correct description of how the deviants differed from the standards. Intuitive deviant detection was not accompanied by P3 elicitation whereas subjects who developed explicit knowledge of the sound sequence during the training did show a P3 to the detected deviants.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2006
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