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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.


Classification of the neural responses to musical pieces and their scrambled versions. (A) The EEG response to scrambled musical tunes, at the beat frequency, was greatest near the frontal and central areas. We show the average of the amplitude over all trials and subjects. (B) The frontal and central areas also exhibited the largest difference in EEG amplitude at the beat frequency upon comparison of the response to a musical piece with that to its scrambled version. We show the differences between the cortical response to random musical stimuli and to the original musical tunes, averaged over all trials and all subjects. (C) The category of the response difference between a scrambled musical piece and its original version (red circles) could be distinguished from the category of the inverse differences, namely the difference in the response to a musical piece and its random counterpart (black squares), based on the single trials from all subjects. Highly accurate discrimination (black line) of the two categories was achieved by the EEG response at the beat frequency at the frontal channels Fz and F6. (D) The classification was completely accurate when we considered the averages over all four trials from a given subject.
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Figure 3: Classification of the neural responses to musical pieces and their scrambled versions. (A) The EEG response to scrambled musical tunes, at the beat frequency, was greatest near the frontal and central areas. We show the average of the amplitude over all trials and subjects. (B) The frontal and central areas also exhibited the largest difference in EEG amplitude at the beat frequency upon comparison of the response to a musical piece with that to its scrambled version. We show the differences between the cortical response to random musical stimuli and to the original musical tunes, averaged over all trials and all subjects. (C) The category of the response difference between a scrambled musical piece and its original version (red circles) could be distinguished from the category of the inverse differences, namely the difference in the response to a musical piece and its random counterpart (black squares), based on the single trials from all subjects. Highly accurate discrimination (black line) of the two categories was achieved by the EEG response at the beat frequency at the frontal channels Fz and F6. (D) The classification was completely accurate when we considered the averages over all four trials from a given subject.

Mentions: We then sought to identify which of the EEG channels or which combination of channels was most informative regarding the comprehension of music. Although the topographic response across the scalp was similar in subjects in response to both the normal and scrambled musical pieces (Figures 1D and 3A), and although all scalp regions had on average a stronger response to the beat of scrambled music than to the original tunes, the differences were largest in the central and frontal areas (Figure 3B). This result suggests that a few channels suffice to discriminate successfully between the perception of a familiar musical tune and that of an unrecognizable, non-sensical musical piece.


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)

Classification of the neural responses to musical pieces and their scrambled versions. (A) The EEG response to scrambled musical tunes, at the beat frequency, was greatest near the frontal and central areas. We show the average of the amplitude over all trials and subjects. (B) The frontal and central areas also exhibited the largest difference in EEG amplitude at the beat frequency upon comparison of the response to a musical piece with that to its scrambled version. We show the differences between the cortical response to random musical stimuli and to the original musical tunes, averaged over all trials and all subjects. (C) The category of the response difference between a scrambled musical piece and its original version (red circles) could be distinguished from the category of the inverse differences, namely the difference in the response to a musical piece and its random counterpart (black squares), based on the single trials from all subjects. Highly accurate discrimination (black line) of the two categories was achieved by the EEG response at the beat frequency at the frontal channels Fz and F6. (D) The classification was completely accurate when we considered the averages over all four trials from a given subject.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4526810&req=5

Figure 3: Classification of the neural responses to musical pieces and their scrambled versions. (A) The EEG response to scrambled musical tunes, at the beat frequency, was greatest near the frontal and central areas. We show the average of the amplitude over all trials and subjects. (B) The frontal and central areas also exhibited the largest difference in EEG amplitude at the beat frequency upon comparison of the response to a musical piece with that to its scrambled version. We show the differences between the cortical response to random musical stimuli and to the original musical tunes, averaged over all trials and all subjects. (C) The category of the response difference between a scrambled musical piece and its original version (red circles) could be distinguished from the category of the inverse differences, namely the difference in the response to a musical piece and its random counterpart (black squares), based on the single trials from all subjects. Highly accurate discrimination (black line) of the two categories was achieved by the EEG response at the beat frequency at the frontal channels Fz and F6. (D) The classification was completely accurate when we considered the averages over all four trials from a given subject.
Mentions: We then sought to identify which of the EEG channels or which combination of channels was most informative regarding the comprehension of music. Although the topographic response across the scalp was similar in subjects in response to both the normal and scrambled musical pieces (Figures 1D and 3A), and although all scalp regions had on average a stronger response to the beat of scrambled music than to the original tunes, the differences were largest in the central and frontal areas (Figure 3B). This result suggests that a few channels suffice to discriminate successfully between the perception of a familiar musical tune and that of an unrecognizable, non-sensical musical piece.

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.