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. 2017 Mar 1;11:90.
doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00090. eCollection 2017.

Cortical Sensitivity to Guitar Note Patterns: EEG Entrainment to Repetition and Key

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Free PMC article

Cortical Sensitivity to Guitar Note Patterns: EEG Entrainment to Repetition and Key

David A Bridwell et al. Front Hum Neurosci. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Music is ubiquitous throughout recent human culture, and many individual's have an innate ability to appreciate and understand music. Our appreciation of music likely emerges from the brain's ability to process a series of repeated complex acoustic patterns. In order to understand these processes further, cortical responses were measured to a series of guitar notes presented with a musical pattern or without a pattern. ERP responses to individual notes were measured using a 24 electrode Bluetooth mobile EEG system (Smarting mBrainTrain) while 13 healthy non-musicians listened to structured (i.e., within musical keys and with repetition) or random sequences of guitar notes for 10 min each. We demonstrate an increased amplitude to the ERP that appears ~200 ms to notes presented within the musical sequence. This amplitude difference between random notes and patterned notes likely reflects individual's cortical sensitivity to guitar note patterns. These amplitudes were compared to ERP responses to a rare note embedded within a stream of frequent notes to determine whether the sensitivity to complex musical structure overlaps with the sensitivity to simple irregularities reflected in traditional auditory oddball experiments. Response amplitudes to the negative peak at ~175 ms are statistically correlated with the mismatch negativity (MMN) response measured to a rare note presented among a series of frequent notes (i.e., in a traditional oddball sequence), but responses to the subsequent positive peak at ~200 do not show a statistical relationship with the P300 response. Thus, the sensitivity to musical structure identified to 4 Hz note patterns appears somewhat distinct from the sensitivity to statistical regularities reflected in the traditional "auditory oddball" sequence. Overall, we suggest that this is a promising approach to examine individual's sensitivity to complex acoustic patterns, which may overlap with higher level cognitive processes, including language.

Keywords: SSAEP; frequency tagging; guitar; mobile EEG; music; oddball.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Guitar note sequence. During the blocks with musical structure (i.e., blocks 1 and 2) the experiment began by playing patterns drawn from the guitar scales with repetition. The sequence began by presenting notes within G# major drawn from the E major scale shape, as indicated in (A). After the last note of the scale pattern, the sequence began again using the second scale pattern (D shape), followed by the third (C shape), and the fourth (A shape) pattern (not depicted). At the end of the fourth pattern the sequence repeated except each scale increased by one semitone (i.e., the pattern repeated in the key of A). The stimulus vector for the first six guitar notes is indicated in (B) and the spectral content of the entire sequence is indicated in (C). The peak at 4 Hz corresponds to the note repetition frequency and the subsequent peaks correspond to its harmonics.
Figure 2
Figure 2
ERP response to notes. The ERP response to a sequence of notes presented with a musical pattern (blue) or a random pattern (red) is indicated in (A), for electrode Fz (indicated by a black dot in the topographic plot). The ERP response to an infrequent note (red) presented within a series of frequent notes (blue) is indicated in (B). Within each plot, the topography indicates the average amplitude around the full width half maximum (fwhm) at the peak. The lines at 0 and 250 ms indicate the onsets of the stimuli (presented at 4 Hz). Error bars represent the standard error.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Relationship between sensitivity to music and rare stimuli. Within (A,B), the y-axis indicates the amplitude difference between notes presented with a musical and random sequence and the x-axis indicates the amplitude to the rare stimulus during the oddball sequence. Results are presented for electrode Fz for the negative peak around ~175 ms within (A), and for the positive peak around ~200 ms (music/random) or 300 ms (oddball sequence) within (B).

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