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November 2021

The cerebral haemodynamics of music perception. A transcranial Doppler sonography study

Author(s): Dannert, J., Rodding, D., Rotter, G., Ringelstein, E. B.

Journal/Book: Brain. 1999; 122: 75-85.

Abstract: The perception of music has been investigated by several neurophysiological and neuroimaging methods. Results from these studies suggest a right hemisphere dominance for non-musicians and a possible left hemisphere dominance for musicians. However, inconsistent results have been obtained, and not all variables have been controlled by the different methods. We performed a study with functional transcranial Doppler sonography (fTCD) of the middle cerebral artery to evaluate changes in cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFV) during different periods of music perception. Twenty-four healthy right-handed subjects were enrolled and examined during rest and during listening to periods of music with predominant language, rhythm and harmony content. The gender, musical experience and mode of listening of the subjects were chosen as independent factors; the type of music was included as the variable in repeated measurements. We observed a significant increase of CBFV in the right hemisphere in non-musicians during harmony perception but not during rhythm perception; this effect was more pronounced in females. Language perception was lateralized to the left hemisphere in all subject groups. Musicians showed increased CBFV values in the left hemisphere which were independent of the type of stimulus, and background listeners showed increased CBFV values during harmony perception in the right hemisphere which were independent of their musical experience. The time taken to reach the peak of CBFV was significantly longer in non-musicians when compared with musicians during rhythm and harmony perception. Pulse rates were significantly decreased in non-musicians during harmony perception, probably due to a specific relaxation effect in this subgroup. The resistance index did not show any significant differences, suggesting only regional changes of small resistance vessels but not of large arteries. Our fTCD study confirms previous findings of right hemisphere lateralization for harmony perception in non-musicians. In addition, we showed that this effect is more pronounced in female subjects and in background listeners and that the lateralization is delayed in non-musicians compared with musicians for the perception of rhythm and harmony stimuli. Our data suggest that musicians and non-musicians have different strategies to lateralize musical stimuli, with a delayed but marked right hemisphere lateralization during harmony perception in non- musicians and an attentive mode of listening contributing to a left hemisphere lateralization in musicians.

Keyword(s): Adult. Attention/physiology. Auditory Perception/physiology. Cerebrovascular Circulation/physiology. Dominance, Cerebral/physiology. Echoencephalography. Female. Hemodynamics/physiology. Human. Male. Music. Pulse. Time Factors. Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial. Vascular Resistance/physiology


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