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The steady-state response of the cerebral cortex to the beat of music reflects both the comprehension of music and attention.

Meltzer B, Reichenbach CS, Braiman C, Schiff ND, Hudspeth AJ, Reichenbach T - Front Hum Neurosci (2015)

Bottom Line: We show that the cortical response to the beat is weaker when subjects listen to a familiar tune than when they listen to an unfamiliar, non-sensical musical piece.Furthermore, we show that in a task of intermodal attention there is a larger neural response at the beat frequency when subjects attend to a musical stimulus than when they ignore the auditory signal and instead focus on a visual one.Our findings may be applied in clinical assessments of auditory processing and music cognition as well as in the construction of auditory brain-machine interfaces.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, London UK.

ABSTRACT
The brain's analyses of speech and music share a range of neural resources and mechanisms. Music displays a temporal structure of complexity similar to that of speech, unfolds over comparable timescales, and elicits cognitive demands in tasks involving comprehension and attention. During speech processing, synchronized neural activity of the cerebral cortex in the delta and theta frequency bands tracks the envelope of a speech signal, and this neural activity is modulated by high-level cortical functions such as speech comprehension and attention. It remains unclear, however, whether the cortex also responds to the natural rhythmic structure of music and how the response, if present, is influenced by higher cognitive processes. Here we employ electroencephalography to show that the cortex responds to the beat of music and that this steady-state response reflects musical comprehension and attention. We show that the cortical response to the beat is weaker when subjects listen to a familiar tune than when they listen to an unfamiliar, non-sensical musical piece. Furthermore, we show that in a task of intermodal attention there is a larger neural response at the beat frequency when subjects attend to a musical stimulus than when they ignore the auditory signal and instead focus on a visual one. Our findings may be applied in clinical assessments of auditory processing and music cognition as well as in the construction of auditory brain-machine interfaces.

No MeSH data available.


The cortical response to the beat of music. (A) Three bars from the musical score of a musical piece (OTJ, top) may be contrasted with its scrambled version (bottom). Note that the randomization occurs over the whole length of the musical piece, and not only over the three bars that are shown here. The notes in the first three bars of the musical piece are thus not all identical to those in the first three bars of the scrambled version. (B) The amplitude spectra of the envelope of a musical piece (FE, blue) and its scrambled version (red) show the same magnitudes at the beat frequency and its higher harmonics. Deviations between the two spectra are well below the noise (shaded areas denote the SEM). (C) The amplitude spectrum from a frontal channel in a representative subject in response to an attended musical piece contained a large response at the beat frequency fb (6 Hz). (D) The response at the beat frequency was largest in the frontal area and smallest at the occipital pole. The scalp topographic map displays the amplitude of the electroencephalography (EEG) responses at the beat frequency in response to an attended musical piece, averaged over all subjects and trials.
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Figure 1: The cortical response to the beat of music. (A) Three bars from the musical score of a musical piece (OTJ, top) may be contrasted with its scrambled version (bottom). Note that the randomization occurs over the whole length of the musical piece, and not only over the three bars that are shown here. The notes in the first three bars of the musical piece are thus not all identical to those in the first three bars of the scrambled version. (B) The amplitude spectra of the envelope of a musical piece (FE, blue) and its scrambled version (red) show the same magnitudes at the beat frequency and its higher harmonics. Deviations between the two spectra are well below the noise (shaded areas denote the SEM). (C) The amplitude spectrum from a frontal channel in a representative subject in response to an attended musical piece contained a large response at the beat frequency fb (6 Hz). (D) The response at the beat frequency was largest in the frontal area and smallest at the occipital pole. The scalp topographic map displays the amplitude of the electroencephalography (EEG) responses at the beat frequency in response to an attended musical piece, averaged over all subjects and trials.

Mentions: Using the software Sibelius (Avid Technology, USA), we generated four melodies adapted from the main musical themes of Für Elise (Ludwig van Beethoven), Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Ode To Joy (Ludwig van Beethoven, excerpt from the Ninth Symphony) and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (popular English lullaby). They are referenced by the acronyms FE, EKN, OTJ, and TT, respectively. Each piece was edited to contain only a single melodic line without any accompaniment. The beat frequency was set to 6 Hz. The pieces were further manipulated such that one note occurred at every beat (Figure 1A). All pieces had notes centered within the same octave range and lasted two minutes. Despite the editing, the four musical tunes remained highly recognizable.


The steady-state response of the cerebral cortex to the beat of music reflects both the comprehension of music and attention.

Meltzer B, Reichenbach CS, Braiman C, Schiff ND, Hudspeth AJ, Reichenbach T - Front Hum Neurosci (2015)

The cortical response to the beat of music. (A) Three bars from the musical score of a musical piece (OTJ, top) may be contrasted with its scrambled version (bottom). Note that the randomization occurs over the whole length of the musical piece, and not only over the three bars that are shown here. The notes in the first three bars of the musical piece are thus not all identical to those in the first three bars of the scrambled version. (B) The amplitude spectra of the envelope of a musical piece (FE, blue) and its scrambled version (red) show the same magnitudes at the beat frequency and its higher harmonics. Deviations between the two spectra are well below the noise (shaded areas denote the SEM). (C) The amplitude spectrum from a frontal channel in a representative subject in response to an attended musical piece contained a large response at the beat frequency fb (6 Hz). (D) The response at the beat frequency was largest in the frontal area and smallest at the occipital pole. The scalp topographic map displays the amplitude of the electroencephalography (EEG) responses at the beat frequency in response to an attended musical piece, averaged over all subjects and trials.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Show All Figures
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Figure 1: The cortical response to the beat of music. (A) Three bars from the musical score of a musical piece (OTJ, top) may be contrasted with its scrambled version (bottom). Note that the randomization occurs over the whole length of the musical piece, and not only over the three bars that are shown here. The notes in the first three bars of the musical piece are thus not all identical to those in the first three bars of the scrambled version. (B) The amplitude spectra of the envelope of a musical piece (FE, blue) and its scrambled version (red) show the same magnitudes at the beat frequency and its higher harmonics. Deviations between the two spectra are well below the noise (shaded areas denote the SEM). (C) The amplitude spectrum from a frontal channel in a representative subject in response to an attended musical piece contained a large response at the beat frequency fb (6 Hz). (D) The response at the beat frequency was largest in the frontal area and smallest at the occipital pole. The scalp topographic map displays the amplitude of the electroencephalography (EEG) responses at the beat frequency in response to an attended musical piece, averaged over all subjects and trials.
Mentions: Using the software Sibelius (Avid Technology, USA), we generated four melodies adapted from the main musical themes of Für Elise (Ludwig van Beethoven), Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Ode To Joy (Ludwig van Beethoven, excerpt from the Ninth Symphony) and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (popular English lullaby). They are referenced by the acronyms FE, EKN, OTJ, and TT, respectively. Each piece was edited to contain only a single melodic line without any accompaniment. The beat frequency was set to 6 Hz. The pieces were further manipulated such that one note occurred at every beat (Figure 1A). All pieces had notes centered within the same octave range and lasted two minutes. Despite the editing, the four musical tunes remained highly recognizable.

Bottom Line: We show that the cortical response to the beat is weaker when subjects listen to a familiar tune than when they listen to an unfamiliar, non-sensical musical piece.Furthermore, we show that in a task of intermodal attention there is a larger neural response at the beat frequency when subjects attend to a musical stimulus than when they ignore the auditory signal and instead focus on a visual one.Our findings may be applied in clinical assessments of auditory processing and music cognition as well as in the construction of auditory brain-machine interfaces.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, London UK.

ABSTRACT
The brain's analyses of speech and music share a range of neural resources and mechanisms. Music displays a temporal structure of complexity similar to that of speech, unfolds over comparable timescales, and elicits cognitive demands in tasks involving comprehension and attention. During speech processing, synchronized neural activity of the cerebral cortex in the delta and theta frequency bands tracks the envelope of a speech signal, and this neural activity is modulated by high-level cortical functions such as speech comprehension and attention. It remains unclear, however, whether the cortex also responds to the natural rhythmic structure of music and how the response, if present, is influenced by higher cognitive processes. Here we employ electroencephalography to show that the cortex responds to the beat of music and that this steady-state response reflects musical comprehension and attention. We show that the cortical response to the beat is weaker when subjects listen to a familiar tune than when they listen to an unfamiliar, non-sensical musical piece. Furthermore, we show that in a task of intermodal attention there is a larger neural response at the beat frequency when subjects attend to a musical stimulus than when they ignore the auditory signal and instead focus on a visual one. Our findings may be applied in clinical assessments of auditory processing and music cognition as well as in the construction of auditory brain-machine interfaces.

No MeSH data available.