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Cereb Cortex. 2008 May;18(5):1169-78. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Shared neural resources between music and language indicate semantic processing of musical tension-resolution patterns.

Author information

1
Junior Research Group Neurocognition of Music Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 04103, Leipzig, Germany. steinb@cbs.mpg.de

Abstract

Harmonic tension-resolution patterns have long been hypothesized to be meaningful to listeners familiar with Western music. Even though it has been shown that specifically chosen musical pieces can prime meaningful concepts, the empirical evidence in favor of such a highly specific semantic pathway has been lacking. Here we show that 2 event-related potentials in response to harmonic expectancy violations, the early right anterior negativity (ERAN) and the N500, could be systematically modulated by simultaneously presented language material containing either a syntactic or a semantic violation. Whereas the ERAN was reduced only when presented concurrently with a syntactic language violation and not with a semantic language violation, this pattern was reversed for the N500. This is the first piece of evidence showing that tension- resolution patterns represent a route to meaning in music.

PMID:
17720685
DOI:
10.1093/cercor/bhm149
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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