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Title: Cortical encoding of melodic expectations in human temporal cortex
Humans engagement in music rests on underlying elements such as the listeners’ cultural background and interest in music. These factors modulate how listeners anticipate musical events, a process inducing instantaneous neural responses as the music confronts these expectations. Measuring such neural correlates would represent a direct window into high-level brain processing. Here we recorded cortical signals as participants listened to Bach melodies. We assessed the relative contributions of acoustic versus melodic components of the music to the neural signal. Melodic features included information on pitch progressions and their tempo, which were extracted from a predictive model of musical structure based on Markov chains. We related the music to brain activity with temporal response functions demonstrating, for the first time, distinct cortical encoding of pitch and note-onset expectations during naturalistic music listening. This encoding was most pronounced at response latencies up to 350 ms, and in both planum temporale and Heschl’s gyrus.
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