Impaired naming of famous musical melodies is associated with left temporal polar damage

Neuropsychology. 2014 May;28(3):429-435. doi: 10.1037/neu0000051. Epub 2013 Dec 23.


Objective: Previous research has shown that damage to the left temporal pole (LTP) is associated with impaired retrieval of words for unique entities, including names of famous people and landmarks. However, it is not known whether retrieving names for famous melodies is associated with the LTP. The aim of this study was to investigate the hypothesis that damage to the LTP would be associated with impaired naming of famous musical melodies.

Method: A Melody Naming Test was administered to patients with LTP damage, brain damaged comparison (BDC) patients, and normal comparison participants (NC). The test included various well-known melodies (e.g., "Pop Goes the Weasel"). After hearing each melody, participants were asked to rate their familiarity with the melody and identify it by name.

Results: LTP patients named significantly fewer melodies than BDC and NC participants. Recognition of melodies did not differ significantly between groups.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that LTP supports retrieval of names for famous melodies. More broadly, these results extend support for the theoretical notion that LTP is important for retrieving proper names for unique concepts, irrespectively of stimulus modality or category.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Auditory Perception
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / psychology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Music*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe*