DOI: 10.1101/494294Dec 13, 2018Paper

The dynamic emergence of musical pitch structure in human cortex

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Narayan SankaranWilliam Forde Thompson


Tonal music the world over is characterized by a hierarchical structuring of pitch, whereby certain tones appear stable and others unstable within their musical context. Despite its prevalence, the cortical mechanisms supporting such a percept remain poorly understood. The current study probed the neural processing dynamics underlying the representation of pitch in Western Tonal Music. Listeners were presented with tones comprising all twelve pitch-classes embedded within a musical context whilst having their magnetoencephalographic (MEG) activity recorded. Using multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA), decoders attempted to classify the identity of tones from their corresponding MEG activity at each peristimulus time sample, providing a dynamic measure of their cortical dissimilarity. Time-evolving dissimilarities between tones were then compared with the predictions of several acoustic and perceptual models. Following tone onset, we observed a temporal evolution in the neural representation. Dissimilarities between tones initially reflected their fundamental frequency separation, but beyond 200 ms reflected their status within the tonal hierarchy of perceived stability. Furthermore, when the dissimilarities corresponding to this...Continue Reading

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