mental planning for hitting the right note (Punita Singh )

Subject: mental planning for hitting the right note
From:    Punita Singh  <pgsingh(at)HOTMAIL.COM>
Date:    Wed, 29 Apr 1998 12:36:48 PDT

Dear List, -- surprisingly little information has turned up regarding the question I had posted about the processes involved in producing intended pitches. The following references were given. I am posting them here for anyone interested in following up on this. --- Punita Original question: posted April 14, 1998 >Dear List, > > Can anyone help me find out more about the neuropsychological processes > active in the moments before a performer sings, whistles or plays a > melody on an instrument with no pitch demarcations (e.g. frets /keys). > Without the aid of such pitch markers, how does the performer plan motor > processes to exactly hit the right note ? > > Should I be looking into auditory memory and imagery literature? > Anything out there in the neuroscience or singing research world? > > Thanks in advance for pitching in with anything noteworthy ! > > Pun ita From: "August Schick" <SCHICK(at)> To: pgsingh(at)HOTMAIL.COM Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 12:41:48 MET Subject: Re: mental planning for performance dear colleague, ask Professor Dr. Gisela Rohmert in Darmstadt or Professor Dr. Scherer in Geneva or the Institute for Music Medicine in Hannover August Schick From: nicolas <nicolas(at)> Date: Fri, 17 Apr 1998 17:43:42 +0200 Hi Punita, I think you can ask this directly to Dr. Dietrich Parlitz (, Email=parlitz(at) if he does not have already contacted you: he's always working in this field I think. Bye From: "Neil Todd" <TODD(at) Date: Mon, 20 Apr 1998 12:29:54 GMT Subject: Re: mental planning for performance Pun ita I'm not aware of any specific singing literature, but a good general reference on premovement planning is: Passingham, R. (1993) The frontal lobes and voluntary action. Oxford Psychology Series 21. OUP. There are many cells in prefrontal and premotor cortex and basal ganglia that fire well in advance of movement. There is also a copious literature on the role of the cerebellum in mental planning. See for example: Miall et al (1993) Is the cerebellum a Smith Predictor? Journal of Motor Behvior, 25, 203-216. Decety et al (1990) The cerebellum participates in mental activity. Brain Research, 535, 313-317. This last paper shows that local blood flow rates to the cerebellum are increased if one only thinks about making a movement sequence. Further evidence for the role of the cerebellum in vocal planning comes from patients with cerebellar ataxia caused by cerebellar lesions. Ackermann et al (1994) Acoustic analysis of vocal instability in cerebellar dysfunctions. Ann. Otol. Rhinol. Laryngol., 103, 98-104. It may also be worth having a look at the literature on tonal spaces. E.g. Shepard, R. (1983) Structural representations of musical pitch. In D. Deutsch (ed) The psychology of music. which I'm sure you are familar with. Given the spatial nature of these representations I would guess a role for the parietal lobe, particularly since the parietal lobe is a well established structure in sensory-guided action, communicating as it does with both premotor cortex and the cerebellum. Allen et al (1974) Cerebro-cerebellar communication systems. Physiological Reviews, 54, 957-1006. Platel et al (1997) Brain 120, 229-243. Hope this is of help. Neil ______________________________________________________ Get Your Private, Free Email at

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