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Decrease in early right alpha band phase synchronization and late gamma band oscillations in processing syntax in music

By Maria Herrojo Ruiz, Stefan Koelsch and Joydeep Bhattacharya


The present study investigated the neural correlates associated with the processing of music-syntactical irregularities as compared with regular syntactic structures in music. Previous studies reported an early ( approximately 200 ms) right anterior negative component (ERAN) by traditional event-related-potential analysis during music-syntactical irregularities, yet little is known about the underlying oscillatory and synchronization properties of brain responses which are supposed to play a crucial role in general cognition including music perception. First we showed that the ERAN was primarily represented by low frequency (<8 Hz) brain oscillations. Further, we found that music-syntactical irregularities as compared with music-syntactical regularities, were associated with (i) an early decrease in the alpha band (9-10 Hz) phase synchronization between right fronto-central and left temporal brain regions, and (ii) a late ( approximately 500 ms) decrease in gamma band (38-50 Hz) oscillations over fronto-central brain regions. These results indicate a weaker degree of long-range integration when the musical expectancy is violated. In summary, our results reveal neural mechanisms of music-syntactic processing that operate at different levels of cortical integration, ranging from early decrease in long-range alpha phase synchronization to late local gamma oscillations

Year: 2009
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