Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research shows where brain interprets ’pitch’

09.09.2005


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."

Joanna Downer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu
http://www.nature.com/nature

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>