Auditory profiles of classical, jazz, and rock musicians: Genre-specific sensitivity to musical sound features

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© 2016 Tervaniemi, Janhunen, Kruck, Putkinen and Huotilainen. When compared with individuals without explicit training in music, adult musicians have facilitated neural functions in several modalities. They also display structural changes in various brain areas, these changes corresponding to the intensity and duration of their musical training. Previous studies have focused on investigating musicians with training in Western classical music. However, musicians involved in different musical genres may display highly differentiated auditory profiles according to the demands set by their genre, i.e., varying importance of different musical sound features. This hypothesis was tested in a novel melody paradigm including deviants in tuning, timbre, rhythm, melody transpositions, and melody contour. Using this paradigm while the participants were watching a silent video and instructed to ignore the sounds, we compared classical, jazz, and rock musicians' and non-musicians' accuracy of neural encoding of the melody. In all groups of participants, all deviants elicited an MMN response, which is a cortical index of deviance discrimination. The strength of the MMN and the subsequent attentional P3a responses reflected the importance of various sound features in each music genre: these automatic brain responses were selectively enhanced to deviants in tuning (classical musicians), timing (classical and jazz musicians), transposition (jazz musicians), and melody contour (jazz and rock musicians). Taken together, these results indicate that musicians with different training history have highly specialized cortical reactivity to sounds which violate the neural template for melody content.




Tervaniemi, M., Janhunen, L., Kruck, S., Putkinen, V., & Huotilainen, M. (2016). Auditory profiles of classical, jazz, and rock musicians: Genre-specific sensitivity to musical sound features. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(JAN).

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