Structure and Function of Auditory Cortex: Music and Speech

Trends Cogn Sci. 2002 Jan 1;6(1):37-46. doi: 10.1016/s1364-6613(00)01816-7.


We examine the evidence that speech and musical sounds exploit different acoustic cues: speech is highly dependent on rapidly changing broadband sounds, whereas tonal patterns tend to be slower, although small and precise changes in frequency are important. We argue that the auditory cortices in the two hemispheres are relatively specialized, such that temporal resolution is better in left auditory cortical areas and spectral resolution is better in right auditory cortical areas. We propose that cortical asymmetries might have developed as a general solution to the need to optimize processing of the acoustic environment in both temporal and frequency domains.