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Semantics, syntax or neither? A case for resolution in the interpretation of N500 and P600 responses to harmonic incongruities.

Featherstone CR, Morrison CM, Waterman MG, MacGregor LJ - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: The processing of notes and chords which are harmonically incongruous with their context has been shown to elicit two distinct late ERP effects.These effects strongly resemble two effects associated with the processing of linguistic incongruities: a P600, resembling a typical response to syntactic incongruities in language, and an N500, evocative of the N400, which is typically elicited in response to semantic incongruities in language.The notes and chords which indicated that there would be no return to the original key (leaving the piece harmonically unresolved) were associated with a further P600 in musicians, but with a negativity resembling the N500 in non-musicians.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
The processing of notes and chords which are harmonically incongruous with their context has been shown to elicit two distinct late ERP effects. These effects strongly resemble two effects associated with the processing of linguistic incongruities: a P600, resembling a typical response to syntactic incongruities in language, and an N500, evocative of the N400, which is typically elicited in response to semantic incongruities in language. Despite the robustness of these two patterns in the musical incongruity literature, no consensus has yet been reached as to the reasons for the existence of two distinct responses to harmonic incongruities. This study was the first to use behavioural and ERP data to test two possible explanations for the existence of these two patterns: the musicianship of listeners, and the resolved or unresolved nature of the harmonic incongruities. Results showed that harmonically incongruous notes and chords elicited a late positivity similar to the P600 when they were embedded within sequences which started and ended in the same key (harmonically resolved). The notes and chords which indicated that there would be no return to the original key (leaving the piece harmonically unresolved) were associated with a further P600 in musicians, but with a negativity resembling the N500 in non-musicians. We suggest that the late positivity reflects the conscious perception of a specific element as being incongruous with its context and the efforts of musicians to integrate the harmonic incongruity into its local context as a result of their analytic listening style, while the late negativity reflects the detection of the absence of resolution in non-musicians as a result of their holistic listening style.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

ERPs time-locked to the onset of the harmonic resolution, or lack thereof (trigger r) for musicians.The figure shows the 9 electrode clusters used in the analyses. Negative is plotted upwards. Topographic map the distribution of the difference between incongruous-unresolved and congruous conditions averaged over the time window of interest (500–700 ms).
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pone-0076600-g005: ERPs time-locked to the onset of the harmonic resolution, or lack thereof (trigger r) for musicians.The figure shows the 9 electrode clusters used in the analyses. Negative is plotted upwards. Topographic map the distribution of the difference between incongruous-unresolved and congruous conditions averaged over the time window of interest (500–700 ms).

Mentions: ERPs time-locked to the onset of the lack of harmonic resolution (trigger r) to compare the congruous and incongruous-unresolved conditions looked very different in musicians and non-musicians (Figures 5 and 6). In musicians, the incongruous-unresolved condition elicited a late centro-parietal positivity at trigger r, relative to congruous condition, which was most clearly defined between 500 and 700 ms. In non-musicians, however, a late negativity was observed in the incongruous-unresolved condition relative to the congruous condition at trigger r, which onset around 400 ms, peaked around 570 ms, and was most clearly defined between 500 and 700 ms.


Semantics, syntax or neither? A case for resolution in the interpretation of N500 and P600 responses to harmonic incongruities.

Featherstone CR, Morrison CM, Waterman MG, MacGregor LJ - PLoS ONE (2013)

ERPs time-locked to the onset of the harmonic resolution, or lack thereof (trigger r) for musicians.The figure shows the 9 electrode clusters used in the analyses. Negative is plotted upwards. Topographic map the distribution of the difference between incongruous-unresolved and congruous conditions averaged over the time window of interest (500–700 ms).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3818369&req=5

pone-0076600-g005: ERPs time-locked to the onset of the harmonic resolution, or lack thereof (trigger r) for musicians.The figure shows the 9 electrode clusters used in the analyses. Negative is plotted upwards. Topographic map the distribution of the difference between incongruous-unresolved and congruous conditions averaged over the time window of interest (500–700 ms).
Mentions: ERPs time-locked to the onset of the lack of harmonic resolution (trigger r) to compare the congruous and incongruous-unresolved conditions looked very different in musicians and non-musicians (Figures 5 and 6). In musicians, the incongruous-unresolved condition elicited a late centro-parietal positivity at trigger r, relative to congruous condition, which was most clearly defined between 500 and 700 ms. In non-musicians, however, a late negativity was observed in the incongruous-unresolved condition relative to the congruous condition at trigger r, which onset around 400 ms, peaked around 570 ms, and was most clearly defined between 500 and 700 ms.

Bottom Line: The processing of notes and chords which are harmonically incongruous with their context has been shown to elicit two distinct late ERP effects.These effects strongly resemble two effects associated with the processing of linguistic incongruities: a P600, resembling a typical response to syntactic incongruities in language, and an N500, evocative of the N400, which is typically elicited in response to semantic incongruities in language.The notes and chords which indicated that there would be no return to the original key (leaving the piece harmonically unresolved) were associated with a further P600 in musicians, but with a negativity resembling the N500 in non-musicians.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
The processing of notes and chords which are harmonically incongruous with their context has been shown to elicit two distinct late ERP effects. These effects strongly resemble two effects associated with the processing of linguistic incongruities: a P600, resembling a typical response to syntactic incongruities in language, and an N500, evocative of the N400, which is typically elicited in response to semantic incongruities in language. Despite the robustness of these two patterns in the musical incongruity literature, no consensus has yet been reached as to the reasons for the existence of two distinct responses to harmonic incongruities. This study was the first to use behavioural and ERP data to test two possible explanations for the existence of these two patterns: the musicianship of listeners, and the resolved or unresolved nature of the harmonic incongruities. Results showed that harmonically incongruous notes and chords elicited a late positivity similar to the P600 when they were embedded within sequences which started and ended in the same key (harmonically resolved). The notes and chords which indicated that there would be no return to the original key (leaving the piece harmonically unresolved) were associated with a further P600 in musicians, but with a negativity resembling the N500 in non-musicians. We suggest that the late positivity reflects the conscious perception of a specific element as being incongruous with its context and the efforts of musicians to integrate the harmonic incongruity into its local context as a result of their analytic listening style, while the late negativity reflects the detection of the absence of resolution in non-musicians as a result of their holistic listening style.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus