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November 2021

Receptive amusia: evidence for cross-hemispheric neural networks underlying music processing strategies

Author(s): Munte, T. F., Wieringa, B. M., Altenmuller, E.

Journal/Book: Brain. 2000; 123 Pt 3: 546-59.

Abstract: Perceptual musical functions were investigated in patients suffering from unilateral cerebrovascular cortical lesions. Using MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technique, a standardized short test battery was established that covers local (analytical) as well as global perceptual mechanisms. These represent the principal cognitive strategies in melodic and temporal musical information processing (local, interval and rhythm; global, contour and metre). Of the participating brain-damaged patients, a total of 69% presented with post-lesional impairments in music perception. Left-hemisphere-damaged patients showed significant deficits in the discrimination of local as well as global structures in both melodic and temporal information processing. Right-hemisphere-damaged patients also revealed an overall impairment of music perception, reaching significance in the temporal conditions. Detailed analysis outlined a hierarchical organization, with an initial right-hemisphere recognition of contour and metre followed by identification of interval and rhythm via left-hemisphere subsystems. Patterns of dissociated and associated melodic and temporal deficits indicate autonomous, yet partially integrated neural subsystems underlying the processing of melodic and temporal stimuli. In conclusion, these data contradict a strong hemispheric specificity for music perception, but indicate cross-hemisphere, fragmented neural substrates underlying local and global musical information processing in the melodic and temporal dimensions. Due to the diverse profiles of neuropsychological deficits revealed in earlier investigations as well as in this study, individual aspects of musicality and musical behaviour very likely contribute to the definite formation of these widely distributed neural networks.

Keyword(s): Acoustic Stimulation. Adult. Agnosia/diagnosis/physiopathology. Attention/physiology. Auditory Cortex/blood supply/physiopathology. Auditory Perception/physiology. Auditory Perceptual Disorders/diagnosis/physiopathology. Cerebrovascular Accident/physiopathology. Cognition/physiology. Female. Human. Laterality/physiology. Male. Middle Age. Music. Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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