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Bridging the gap between perceptual and cognitive perspectives on absolute pitch


Elmer, Stefan; Rogenmoser, Lars; Kühnis, Jürg; Jäncke, Lutz (2015). Bridging the gap between perceptual and cognitive perspectives on absolute pitch. Journal of Neuroscience, 35(1):366-371.

Abstract

Absolute pitch (AP) refers to the rare ability to identify the chroma of a tone or to produce a specific pitch without reference to keyality (e.g., G or C). Previously, AP has been proposed to rely on the distinctive functional-anatomical architecture of the left auditory-related cortex (ARC), this specific trait possibly enabling an optimized early "categorical perception". In contrast, currently prevailing models of AP postulate that cognitive rather than perceptual processes, namely "pitch labeling" mechanisms, more likely constitute the bearing skeleton of AP. This associative memory component has previously been proposed to be dependent, among other mechanisms, on the recruitment of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) as well as on the integrity of the left arcuate fasciculus, a fiber bundle linking the posterior supratemporal plane with the DLPFC. Here, we attempted to integrate these two apparently conflicting perspectives on AP, namely early "categorical perception" and "pitch labeling". We used electroencephalography and evaluated resting-state intracranial functional connectivity between the left ARC and DLPFC in a sample of musicians with and without AP. Results demonstrate significantly increased left-hemispheric theta phase synchronization in AP compared with non-AP musicians. Within the AP group, this specific electrophysiological marker was predictive of absolute-hearing behavior and explained ∼30% of variance. Thus, we propose that in AP subjects the tonal inputs and the corresponding mnemonic representations are tightly coupled in such a manner that the distinctive electrophysiological signature of AP can saliently be detected in only 3 min of resting-state measurements.

Abstract

Absolute pitch (AP) refers to the rare ability to identify the chroma of a tone or to produce a specific pitch without reference to keyality (e.g., G or C). Previously, AP has been proposed to rely on the distinctive functional-anatomical architecture of the left auditory-related cortex (ARC), this specific trait possibly enabling an optimized early "categorical perception". In contrast, currently prevailing models of AP postulate that cognitive rather than perceptual processes, namely "pitch labeling" mechanisms, more likely constitute the bearing skeleton of AP. This associative memory component has previously been proposed to be dependent, among other mechanisms, on the recruitment of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) as well as on the integrity of the left arcuate fasciculus, a fiber bundle linking the posterior supratemporal plane with the DLPFC. Here, we attempted to integrate these two apparently conflicting perspectives on AP, namely early "categorical perception" and "pitch labeling". We used electroencephalography and evaluated resting-state intracranial functional connectivity between the left ARC and DLPFC in a sample of musicians with and without AP. Results demonstrate significantly increased left-hemispheric theta phase synchronization in AP compared with non-AP musicians. Within the AP group, this specific electrophysiological marker was predictive of absolute-hearing behavior and explained ∼30% of variance. Thus, we propose that in AP subjects the tonal inputs and the corresponding mnemonic representations are tightly coupled in such a manner that the distinctive electrophysiological signature of AP can saliently be detected in only 3 min of resting-state measurements.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 University Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
150 Psychology
610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:DoktoratPSYCH
Language:English
Date:7 January 2015
Deposited On:14 Jan 2015 14:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:50
Publisher:Society for Neuroscience
ISSN:0270-6474
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3009-14.2015
PubMed ID:25568128

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