MSU CogSci Robert Zatorre - December 6, 2010

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"Analysis of Musical Pitch: Functional Pathways And Structural Correlates ."

Abstract for talk: In this lecture we will consider functional and structural neuroimaging findings dealing with the organization of the human auditory cortex for the processing of complex acoustic signals. We focus on the processing of pitch patterns, how this processing changes as a function of experience, and the interactions between auditory and parietal cortical systems involved in higher-order aspects of pitch processing. We will start by examining the evidence for specialization of auditory cortex for the analysis of pitch, reviewing converging evidence that a region in the right lateral Heschl’s gyrus plays a particularly important role in the representation of pitch. We will then consider how musical training interacts with the organization of this pitch-processing system. Our evidence suggests not only that training has consequences on anatomy and function, but also that pre-existing differences in the properties of this system may affect behavioral performance on relevant pitch tasks. We then go on to consider processing beyond auditory cortex, examining the function of a dorsal pathway which has traditionally been thought of as visuospatial in nature. We show that the intraparietal cortex plays an important role in transformations of tonal pitch patterns both in the frequency and in the time domain. Taken together, the findings yield insights into the functional characterization of perceptual pathways and inform us about structure-function relationships in higher-order cognitive processes.


Suggested Readings:

Zatorre, R.J. and Gandour, J.T. (2007) Neural specializations for speech and pitch: Moving beyond the dichotomies. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 363, 1087-1104. [.pdf]

Zatorre, R.J., Halpern, A.R., and Bouffard, M. (2010) Mental reversal of imagined melodies: A role for the posterior parietal cortex.  Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 775-789.[.pdf]

Foster, N. E.V. and Zatorre, R.J. (2010) Cortical structure predicts success in performing musical transformation judgments. NeuroImage, 53, 26-36. [.pdf]

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