Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research Shows Where Brain Interprets 'Pitch'

Date:
September 9, 2005
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
ohns Hopkins researchers have discovered a discrete region of the monkey brain that processes pitch, the relative high and low points of sound, by recognizing a single musical note played by different instruments.

Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a discrete region of the monkey brain that processes pitch, the relative high and low points of sound, by recognizing a single musical note played by different instruments.

Given the similarities between monkeys and man, humans may have a similar pitch-processing region in the brain too, which might one day help those with hearing and speech problems. The paper appears in the Aug. 25 issue of Nature.

By recording the activity of individual brain cells as monkeys listened to musical notes, the scientists identified single neurons, located in what they've called the brain's "pitch center," that recognize a middle-C as a middle-C even when played by two different instruments.

"Pitch perception is such a basic function of human and animal auditory systems, yet its source has remained elusive to researchers for decades," says Xiaoqin Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences. "The discovery of a pitch-processing area in the brain solves an age-old mystery of auditory research."

According to Wang, pitch's importance to humans is found in facilitating our ability to follow a sequence of sounds we would recognize as "melodic" and combinations of sounds we identify as harmony. As a result, pitch gives meaning to the patterns, tones and emotional content of speech, like how raising our voice at the end of a sentence indicates a question, and cues the listener to the speaker's gender and age.

Although a melody or conversation is not as essential to monkeys, pitch perception is crucial for nonhuman primates to interpret the source and meaning of prey and predator calls or other sounds from the environment. Such information is crucial for the animal's survival.

Wang's team studied marmoset monkeys using single-neuron recording, a technique that measures the electrical activity of individual neurons in the brain. The researchers viewed each neuron's reaction as different notes were played by a computer.

The majority of pitch-selective neurons are located in a specific region of the monkey's brain near the primary auditory cortex, a region already known to interpret sounds.

"The auditory cortex has traditionally been thought to detect the complex spectrum contained within a sound; for example, with one set of neurons responding only to a trumpet and another set to a violin, even if playing the same note," says Wang. "But the neurons we found respond to a single musical note, regardless if played by a trumpet or violin."

###

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Daniel Bendor of Johns Hopkins co-authored the paper.

On the Web: http://www.nature.com/nature


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Research Shows Where Brain Interprets 'Pitch'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050909075632.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2005, September 9). Research Shows Where Brain Interprets 'Pitch'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050909075632.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Research Shows Where Brain Interprets 'Pitch'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050909075632.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins