Toronto Metropolitan University

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Absolute pitch: neurophysiological evidence for early brain activity in prefrontal cortex

journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-21, 18:43 authored by Vivek V. Sharma, Michael Thaut, Frank RussoFrank Russo, Claude Alain

Absolute pitch (AP) is the ability to rapidly label pitch without an external reference. The speed of AP labeling may be related to faster sensory processing. We compared time needed for auditory processing in AP musicians, non-AP musicians, and nonmusicians (NM) using high-density electroencephalographic recording. Participants responded to pure tones and sung voice. Stimuli evoked a negative deflection peaking at ~100 ms (N1) post-stimulus onset, followed by a positive deflection peaking at ~200 ms (P2). N1 latency was shortest in AP, intermediate in non-AP musicians, and longest in NM. Source analyses showed decreased auditory cortex and increased frontal cortex contributions to N1 for complex tones compared with pure tones. Compared with NM, AP musicians had weaker source currents in left auditory cortex but stronger currents in left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) during N1, and stronger currents in left IFG during P2. Compared with non-AP musicians, AP musicians exhibited stronger source currents in right insula and left IFG during N1, and stronger currents in left IFG during P2. Non-AP musicians had stronger N1 currents in right auditory cortex than nonmusicians. Currents in left IFG and left auditory cortex were correlated to response times exclusively in AP. Findings suggest a left frontotemporal network supports rapid pitch labeling in AP.




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