A role for the right superior temporal sulcus in categorical perception of musical chords

Authors:  Mike E. Klein & Robert J. Zatorre
Publication: Neuropsychologia
Publication volume & date: Available online 12 January 2011
DOI: doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.01.00
Abridged Abstract:  “Categorical perception (CP) is a mechanism whereby non-identical stimuli that have the same underlying meaning become invariantly represented in the brain. …CP has been demonstrated to occur broadly across the auditory modality, including in perception of speech (e.g. phonemes) and music (e.g. chords) stimuli. Several functional imaging studies have linked CP of speech with activity in multiple regions of the left superior temporal sulcus (STS). As language processing is generally left-hemisphere dominant and, conversely, fine-grained spectral processing shows a right hemispheric bias, we hypothesized that CP of musical stimuli would be associated with right STS activity….”

The authors tested 10 musically-trained subjects using fMRI to determine which part of the brain is involved during CP of chord pairs, confirming that the right superior temporal sulcus (STS) is “associated with categorical perception in music.”

Resources on categorical perception:

Categorical perception from Scholarpedia
Categorical perception demonstration

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