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 Microscope measures muscle weakness
16.11.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Good preparation is half the digestion
16.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>