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J Neurosci. 2019 Oct 9;39(41):8112-8123. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1468-18.2019. Epub 2019 Sep 9.

Neural Correlates of Music Listening and Recall in the Human Brain.

Author information

1
Tsinghua Laboratory of Brain and Intelligence (THBI) and Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, P.R. China.
2
Department of Epilepsy Center, Tsinghua University Yuquan Hospital, Beijing 100040, P.R. China.
3
Department of Neurosurgery, General Hospital of People's Liberty Army, Beijing 100853, P.R. China, and.
4
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21205.
5
Tsinghua Laboratory of Brain and Intelligence (THBI) and Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, P.R. China, xiaoqin.wang@jhu.edu hongbo@mail.tsinghua.edu.cn.

Abstract

Previous neuroimaging studies have identified various brain regions that are activated by music listening or recall. However, little is known about how these brain regions represent the time course and temporal features of music during listening and recall. Here we analyzed neural activity in different brain regions associated with music listening and recall using electrocorticography recordings obtained from 10 epilepsy patients of both genders implanted with subdural electrodes. Electrocorticography signals were recorded while subjects were listening to familiar instrumental music or recalling the same music pieces by imagery. During the onset phase (0-500 ms), music listening initiated cortical activity in high-gamma band in the temporal lobe and supramarginal gyrus, followed by the precentral gyrus and the inferior frontal gyrus. In contrast, during music recall, the high-gamma band activity first appeared in the inferior frontal gyrus and precentral gyrus, and then spread to the temporal lobe, showing a reversed temporal sequential order. During the sustained phase (after 500 ms), delta band and high-gamma band responses in the supramarginal gyrus, temporal and frontal lobes dynamically tracked the intensity envelope of the music during listening or recall with distinct temporal delays. During music listening, the neural tracking by the frontal lobe lagged behind that of the temporal lobe; whereas during music recall, the neural tracking by the frontal lobe preceded that of the temporal lobe. These findings demonstrate bottom-up and top-down processes in the cerebral cortex during music listening and recall and provide important insights into music processing by the human brain.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Understanding how the brain analyzes, stores, and retrieves music remains one of the most challenging problems in neuroscience. By analyzing direct neural recordings obtained from the human brain, we observed dispersed and overlapping brain regions associated with music listening and recall. Music listening initiated cortical activity in high-gamma band starting from the temporal lobe and ending at the inferior frontal gyrus. A reversed temporal flow was observed in high-gamma response during music recall. Neural responses of frontal and temporal lobes dynamically tracked the intensity envelope of music that was presented or imagined during listening or recall. These findings demonstrate bottom-up and top-down processes in the cerebral cortex during music listening and recall.

KEYWORDS:

ECoG; auditory; hearing; memory; music; recall

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