• music;
  • syntax;
  • oscillations;
  • synchronization;
  • phase;
  • EEG;
  • network


The present study investigated the neural correlates associated with the processing of music-syntactical irregularities as compared with regular syntactic structures in music. Previous studies reported an early (∼200 ms) right anterior negative component (ERAN) by traditional event-related-potential analysis during music-syntactical irregularities, yet little is known about the underlying oscillatory and synchronization properties of brain responses which are supposed to play a crucial role in general cognition including music perception. First we showed that the ERAN was primarily represented by low frequency (<8 Hz) brain oscillations. Further, we found that music-syntactical irregularities as compared with music-syntactical regularities, were associated with (i) an early decrease in the alpha band (9–10 Hz) phase synchronization between right fronto-central and left temporal brain regions, and (ii) a late (∼500 ms) decrease in gamma band (38–50 Hz) oscillations over fronto-central brain regions. These results indicate a weaker degree of long-range integration when the musical expectancy is violated. In summary, our results reveal neural mechanisms of music-syntactic processing that operate at different levels of cortical integration, ranging from early decrease in long-range alpha phase synchronization to late local gamma oscillations. Hum Brain Mapp 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.