Navigation Links
Is there a central brain area for hearing melodies and speech cues? Still an open question
Date:11/29/2011

Bethesda, Md. (Nov. 28, 2011)The perceptual feature of sound known as pitch is fundamental to human hearing, allowing us to enjoy the melodies and harmonies of music and recognize the inflection of speech. Previous studies have suggested that a particular hotspot in the brain might be responsible for perceiving pitch. However, auditory neuroscientists are still hotly debating whether this "pitch center" actually exists. In a new review article, Daniel Bendor, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discusses a recent study claiming that this pitch center may not exist after all, or alternatively, may not be located where previous research has suggested. The article is entitled "Does a Pitch Center Exist in Auditory Cortex?"and appears in the Articles in PresS section of the Journal of Neurophysiology, published by the American Physiological Society.

Methodology

Dr. Bendor writes a brief review outlining previous research that found a pitch processing center in a region of human auditory cortex located in lateral Heschl's gyrus, as well as other more recent studies that report data that contradict these earlier findings.

Results

The review points out decades-old research suggesting that the auditory cortex plays a pivotal role in pitch perception. Researchers originally obtained this finding by training cats to distinguish pitch, then removing the auditory cortex on both sides of the brainrendering the animals unable to distinguish pitch, but still able to discriminate other aspects of sound, such as frequency. Studies using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), a technique that examines brain activity while subjects are actively performing tasks in an MRI scanner, suggested that the lateral Heschl's gyrus is the main player in pitch perception. Several fMRI studies have scanned subjects' brains while listening to noise, then compared the brain activity to when subjects listen to a sound called iterated ripple noise (IRN), similar to noise but with a pitch component. However, recent studies that compare IRN and an IRN stimulus modified to have no pitch found that both sounds seem to activate the same region of the brain, suggesting that this area may not be involved in pitch perception after all. Bendor points out that it is too soon to dismiss the existence of a pitch center, however additional studies are needed to confirm its existence given these new results. He adds, although auditory cortex overlaps Heschl's gyrus, the exact placement can vary between subjects. Intersubject variability presents a significant problem when averaging data across multiple subjects, and could be one reason why an fMRI study fails to replicate a result.

Bendor notes that other research suggests that a different area of the brain behind the lateral Heschl's gyrus, called the anterior planum temporale, may play a role in perceiving pitcha topic that needs further investigation.

Importance of the Findings

The reviewed studies suggest that the existence of a pitch center, especially one located in the lateral Heschl's gyrus, is still an open question.

"Although there is general agreement that the auditory cortex is essential for pitch perception, whether pitch processing is localized within a single functionally-specific region within the auditory cortex remains a controversial issue among auditory neuroscientists," Bendor says. Dr. Bendor is affiliated with the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Brain and Cognitive Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


'/>"/>

Contact: Donna Krupa
dkrupa@the-aps.org
301-634-7209
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Feathered friends are far from bird-brained when building nests
2. An all natural diet? Theres no such thing
3. Can we get there from here? Translating stem cell research into therapies
4. Mating rivalry among furred and feathered: Variety is spice of life
5. Secret lives of the furred and feathered
6. Species unique to single island should not be rare there
7. Unknown animals nearly invisible but yet there
8. Macavity wasnt there! How absent reoviruses kill cancer
9. Theres a new officer in the infection control army
10. Urban gardeners beware: There may be lead in your soil and food
11. Why are there no hyenas in Europe?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/15/2016)... Research and Markets has announced ... 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... global gait biometrics market is expected to grow ... 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates multiple variables ... to compute factors that are not or cannot ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... , March 29, 2016 LegacyXChange, ... LegacyXChange "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce ... used in a variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes ... originally created collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange will be ... of the DNA. Bill Bollander , ...
(Date:3/18/2016)... , March 18, 2016 ... Suppliers of Biometrics, ICT, Manned & Unmanned Vehicles, Physical infrastructure ... & security companies in the border security market and the ... and Europe has led visiongain ... companies improved success. --> defence & security ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/4/2016)... , ... May 04, 2016 , ... PBI-Gordon Corporation is ... Agricultural Sales. , Doug began his career at PBI-Gordon in February 1988, after ... a wide variety of roles, ranging from customer service to national product manager, to ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... 2016 The report "Biochips ... Gene Expression) Lab-on-a-chip (IVD & POC, Proteomics), ... Centers), Fabrication Technology (Microarrays, Microfluidics) - Forecast ... is expected to reach USD 17.75 Billion ... 2015, growing at a CAGR of 18.4% ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... ... In a list published by the Boston Business Journal, iLab Solutions ... percentage of the state's 615,000+ small businesses. The list examined companies based in the ... to 2015. , As this award comes on the heels of iLab’s ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... ... of Dr. Nancy Gillett to its Board of Directors. Dr. Gillett recently retired ... Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer. A board-certified veterinary pathologist, Dr. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: