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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2005 Apr;15(2):207-12.

Neural substrates of processing syntax and semantics in music.

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Junior Research Group Neurocognition of Music, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.


Growing evidence indicates that syntax and semantics are basic aspects of music. After the onset of a chord, initial music-syntactic processing can be observed at about 150-400 ms and processing of musical semantics at about 300-500 ms. Processing of musical syntax activates inferior frontolateral cortex, ventrolateral premotor cortex and presumably the anterior part of the superior temporal gyrus. These brain structures have been implicated in sequencing of complex auditory information, identification of structural relationships, and serial prediction. Processing of musical semantics appears to activate posterior temporal regions. The processes and brain structures involved in the perception of syntax and semantics in music have considerable overlap with those involved in language perception, underlining intimate links between music and language in the human brain.

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