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

ound 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.


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

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