Effects of attention on the neural processing of harmonic syntax in Western music.

Journal Article (Clinical Trial;Journal Article)

The effects of selective attention on the neural response to the violation of musical syntax were investigated in the present study. Musical chord progressions were played to nonmusicians while Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) were recorded. The five-chord progressions included 61% harmonically expected cadences (I-I(6)-IV-V-I), 26% harmonically unexpected cadences (I-I(6)-IV-V-N(6)), and 13% with one of the five chords having an intensity fadeout across its duration. During the attended condition, subjects responded by pressing a button upon detecting a fadeout in volume; during the unattended condition, subjects were given reading comprehension materials and instructed to ignore all auditory stimuli. In response to the harmonic deviant, an Early Anterior Negativity (EAN) was observed at 150-300 ms in both attention conditions, but it was much larger in amplitude in the attended condition. A second scalp-negative deflection was also identified at 380-600 ms following the harmonic deviants; this Late Negativity onset earlier during the attended condition. These results suggest strong effects of attention on the neural processing of harmonic syntax.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Loui, P; Grent-'t-Jong, T; Torpey, D; Woldorff, M

Published Date

  • December 2005

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 25 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 678 - 687

PubMed ID

  • 16257518

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0926-6410

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2005.08.019


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands