Jan 11, 2013

Increased volume and function of right auditory cortex as a marker for absolute pitch

Cerebral Cortex
Martina WengenrothPeter Schneider


Absolute pitch (AP) perception is the auditory ability to effortlessly recognize the pitch of any given tone without external reference. To study the neural substrates of this rare phenomenon, we developed a novel behavioral test, which excludes memory-based interval recognition and permits quantification of AP proficiency independently of relative pitch cues. AP- and non-AP-possessing musicians were studied with morphological and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography. Gray matter volume of the right Heschl's gyrus (HG) was highly correlated with AP proficiency. Right-hemispheric auditory evoked fields were increased in the AP group. fMRI revealed an AP-dependent network of right planum temporale, secondary somatosensory, and premotor cortices, as well as left-hemispheric "Broca's" area. We propose the right HG as an anatomical marker of AP and suggest that a right-hemispheric network mediates AP "perception," whereas pitch "labeling" takes place in the left hemisphere.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Reaction Time
Pitch Perception
Planum Temporale
Gray Matter
Acoustic Stimulation
Optical Image Reconstruction
Behavioral Test
Right Auditory Cortex

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