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Keywords:

  • Event-related potentials;
  • P300 (P3);
  • Dichotic listening;
  • Pitch discrimination;
  • Laterality

Abstract

Electrophysiologic correlates of perceptual asymmetry for dichotic pitch discrimination were investigated in 20 normal subjects. Brain event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited by dichotic pairs and binaural probe tones in the Complex Tone Test (Sidtis, 1981) were recorded from homologous scalp locations over left and right hemispheres (F3, F4; C3, C4; P3, P4; O1, O2). Baseline-to-peak amplitudes were measured for N100, P200, and a late positive complex consisting of P350, P550, and slow wave. A left ear advantage (LEA) was evident in 70% of the subjects, and hemispheric asymmetries related to this behavioral asymmetry were found for P350 and P550 amplitudes to probe stimuli. Subjects with a strong LEA had greater amplitudes over the right hemisphere than the left, whereas subjects with little or no LEA showed a nonsignificant trend toward the opposite hemispheric asymmetry. Hemispheric asymmetry of these late ERPs at parietal and occipital sites was highly correlated with behavioral asymmetry. These findings suggest the utility of electrophysiological measures in assessing hemispheric asymmetries for processing complex pitch information.