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Keywords:

  • pitch analysis;
  • functional imaging;
  • music;
  • brain;
  • PET;
  • fMRI

Abstract: This work addresses the brain basis for the analysis of pitch and pitch patterns required for normal musical perception. Recent functional imaging experiments are consistent with a hierarchical scheme for the analysis of pitch. Mechanisms in the ascending auditory pathway to the primary auditory cortex allow the representation of the spectral and temporal features of individual notes required for the perception of their pitch. Converging experiments where pitch strength is manipulated in different ways suggest that there may be a “pitch center” in the lateral part of Heschl's gyrus, adjacent to the primary auditory area. The suggestion is that there is a representation in this area that correlates with the perception of pitch rather than a simple mapping of physical stimulus characteristics. The analysis of patterns of pitch such as melodies, as opposed to the pitch of individual notes, involves much more distributed processing in the superior temporal lobes and frontal lobes. Involvement of the frontal lobe in pitch pattern analysis may in part reflect whether subjects analyze the pitch patterns in order to carry out an output task.