Pitch-induced responses in right auditory cortex correlate with musical ability in normal listeners
Sebastian Puschmann, Jale Özyurt, Stefan Uppenkamp, Christiane M. Thiel
NeuroReport 24(15), PP 841-845, 23 October 2013 (online 29 August 2013)
Previous work compellingly shows the existence of functional and structural differences in human auditory cortex related to superior musical abilities observed in professional musicians. In this study, we investigated the relationship between musical abilities and auditory cortex activity in normal listeners who had not received a professional musical education. We used functional MRI to measure auditory cortex responses related to auditory stimulation per se and the processing of pitch and pitch changes, which represents a prerequisite for the perception of musical sequences. Pitch-evoked responses in the right lateral portion of Heschl's gyrus were correlated positively with the listeners' musical abilities, which were assessed using a musical aptitude test. In contrast, no significant relationship was found for noise stimuli, lacking any musical information, and for responses induced by pitch changes. Our results suggest that superior musical abilities in normal listeners are reflected by enhanced neural encoding of pitch information in the auditory system.
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