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Re: Brain and musicality

Although the relation between musicality and absolute pitch is complicated,
I'd like to quote some neurologocal brain studies about absolute pitch (AP)

[quote from: Zatorre, R. J., Perry, D. W., Beckett, C. A., Westbury, C. F.,
& Evans, A. C. (1998). Functional anatomy of musical processing in listeners
with absolute pitch and relative pitch. Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences (U.S.A.), 95, 3172-3177. http://www.zlab.mcgill.ca/]

We used both structural and functional brain imaging techniques to
investigate the neural basis of absolute pitch (AP), a specialized skill
present in some musicians. By using positron emission tomography, we
measured cerebral blood f low during the presentation of musical tones to AP
possessors and to control musicians without AP. Listening to musical tones
resulted in similar patterns of increased cerebral blood flow in auditory
cortical areas in both groups, as expected. The AP group also demonstrated
activation of the left posterior dorsolateral frontal cortex, an area
thought to be related to learning conditional associations. However, a
similar pattern of left dorsolateral frontal activity was also observed in
non-AP subjects when they made relative pitch judgments of intervals, such
as minor or major. Conversely, activity within the right inferior frontal
cortex was observed in control but not in AP subjects during the
interval-judgment task, suggesting that AP possessors need not access
working memory mechanisms in this task. MRI measures of cortical volume
indicated a larger left planum temporale in the AP group, which correlated
with performance on an pitch-naming task. Our findings suggest that AP may
not be associated with a unique pattern of cerebral activity but rather may
depend on the recruitment of a specialized network involved in the retrieval
and manipulation of verbal-tonal associations.


It seems that the activity in the right inferior frontal region, which is
present only in the RP(relative pitch) group during the interval-judgment
task, may reflect working memory mechanisms and musical intervals
computation. AP possessors may not need access to this mechanism because
they classify intervals by pitch-naming.
Therefore, the following report is not a surprise for me.

[quote from: Chi Chen, Andrea Halpern, Ben Bly, Robert Edelman, Gottfried
Schlaug. (2000). Planum Temporale Asymmetry And Absolute Pitch.

The exaggerated PT(planum temporale) asymmetry in the AP group was mainly
due to a significantly smaller right PT.


Tsai, Chen-Gia

>Dear all,
>a student at our department wishes to write her seminar essay on the
>"Brain and musicality". Could anyone suggest any references to articles or
>book chapters she could use for the essay?
>Thanks in advance,