• hemispheric dominance;
  • auditory processing;
  • temporal cortex;
  • magnetoencephalography;
  • mismatch negativity


Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), we report here the hemispheric dominance of the auditory cortex that is selectively modulated by unexpected errors in the lyrics and melody of songs (lyrics and melody deviants), thereby elucidating under which conditions the lateralization of auditory processing changes. In experiment 1 using familiar songs, we found that the dipole strength of responses to the lyrics deviants was left-dominant at 140 ms (M140), whereas that of responses to the melody deviants was right-dominant at 130 ms (M130). In experiment 2 using familiar songs with a constant syllable or pitch, the dipole strength of frequency mismatch negativity elicited by oddballs was left-dominant. There were significant main effects of experiment (1 and 2) for the peak latencies and for the coordinates of the dipoles, indicating that the M140 and M130 were not the frequency mismatch negativity. In experiment 3 using newly memorized songs, the right-dominant M130 was observed only when the presented note was unexpected one, independent of perceiving unnatural pitch transitions (i.e., perceptual saliency) and of selective attention to the melody of songs. The consistent right-dominance of the M130 between experiments 1 and 3 suggests that the M130 in experiment 1 is due to unexpected notes deviating from well-memorized songs. On the other hand, the left-dominant M140 was elicited by lyrics deviants, suggesting the influence of top-down linguistic information and the memory of the familiar songs. We thus conclude that the left- lateralized M140 and right-lateralized M130 reflect the expectation based on top-down information of language and music, respectively. Hum Brain Mapp, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.