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Neural patterns reveal single-trial information on absolute pitch and relative pitch perception


Leipold, Simon; Greber, Marielle; Sele, Silvano; Jäncke, Lutz (2019). Neural patterns reveal single-trial information on absolute pitch and relative pitch perception. NeuroImage, 200:132-141.

Abstract

Pitch is a fundamental attribute of sounds and yet is not perceived equally by all humans. Absolute pitch (AP) musicians perceive, recognize, and name pitches in absolute terms, whereas relative pitch (RP) musicians, representing the large majority of musicians, perceive pitches in relation to other pitches. In this study, we used electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate the neural representations underlying tone listening and tone labeling in a large sample of musicians (n = 105). Participants performed a pitch processing task with a listening and a labeling condition during EEG acquisition. Using a brain-decoding framework, we tested a prediction derived from both theoretical and empirical accounts of AP, namely that the representational similarity of listening and labeling is higher in AP musicians than in RP musicians. Consistent with the prediction, time-resolved single-trial EEG decoding revealed a higher representational similarity in AP musicians during late stages of pitch perception. Time-frequency-resolved EEG decoding further showed that the higher representational similarity was present in oscillations in the theta and beta frequency bands. Supplemental univariate analyses were less sensitive in detecting subtle group differences in the frequency domain. Taken together, the results suggest differences between AP and RP musicians in late pitch processing stages associated with cognition, rather than in early processing stages associated with perception.

Abstract

Pitch is a fundamental attribute of sounds and yet is not perceived equally by all humans. Absolute pitch (AP) musicians perceive, recognize, and name pitches in absolute terms, whereas relative pitch (RP) musicians, representing the large majority of musicians, perceive pitches in relation to other pitches. In this study, we used electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate the neural representations underlying tone listening and tone labeling in a large sample of musicians (n = 105). Participants performed a pitch processing task with a listening and a labeling condition during EEG acquisition. Using a brain-decoding framework, we tested a prediction derived from both theoretical and empirical accounts of AP, namely that the representational similarity of listening and labeling is higher in AP musicians than in RP musicians. Consistent with the prediction, time-resolved single-trial EEG decoding revealed a higher representational similarity in AP musicians during late stages of pitch perception. Time-frequency-resolved EEG decoding further showed that the higher representational similarity was present in oscillations in the theta and beta frequency bands. Supplemental univariate analyses were less sensitive in detecting subtle group differences in the frequency domain. Taken together, the results suggest differences between AP and RP musicians in late pitch processing stages associated with cognition, rather than in early processing stages associated with perception.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:15 October 2019
Deposited On:27 Aug 2019 11:20
Last Modified:27 Aug 2019 11:59
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1053-8119
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.06.030
PubMed ID:31238164
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID320030_163149
  • : Project TitleDie neuronalen Grundlagen des absoluten Gehörs und der Ton-Farbsynästhesie: Zwei Seiten einer Medaille?

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