Functional Neuroanatomy of Linguistic and Motor Access Mechanisms to Musical Pitch Memory(2/2)

Project Details


This project investigates the functional properties of vocal-motor and language-related cortical regionsinvolved in retrieval and production of musical pitch from long-term auditory memory using psychophysicaland functional neuroimaging (fMRI) approaches. Despite a recent upsurge in neuroimaging research onmusical pitch processing, comparatively little is known about cortical activation patterns underlyingproduction of musical pitch either vocally or through other perceptual auditory mechanisms. Studies thatprobed possible brain mechanisms underlying the association between linguistic tokens and musical pitch hasalso yielded inconsistent conclusions. We hypothesized that distinct neural networks modulated bylanguage-specific components underlie a dissociation between motor and perceptual mechanisms inaccessing musical pitch memory. Part I of the proposed research examines cortical activation patternsassociated with vocal and non-vocal pitch production by absolute-pitch and relative-pitch musicians. Visuallypresented musical notes will be sung with pitch names involved in different solmization systems (i.e.,fixed-Do and movable-Do systems) to contrast brain activation patterns underlying vocal-pitch productionwith congruent and incongruent labels. Part II of the proposed research aims to identify language-modulatedcortical regions subserving the use of linguistic symbols in facilitating retrieval and labeling of musical pitchfrom long-term memory. Novel “hybrid” stimuli consisting of incongruent linguistic and pitch cues will beemployed to contrast activities in cortical regions underlying perception of unexpected linguistic informationduring retrieval of musical pitch by musicians trained in different solmization systems. The last set ofexperiments will use psychophysical procedures to assess whether children invoke absolute and or relativepitch code in processing discrete and continuous musical pitch sequences. Several factors will be examinedincluding the direction, rate and extent of the frequency change as well as frequency region during processingof melodic pitch information. Differences in performance from children within different age range willprovide evidence of the putative existence of shifts in the processing of pitch information from absolute torelative pitch code during a critical developmental period.
Effective start/end date1/08/1831/12/19

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • pitch perception
  • absolute pitch
  • relative pitch
  • vocal production
  • pitch name


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