Brain specialization for music

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Abstract

Music, like language, is a universal and specific trait to humans. Similarly, music appreciation, like language comprehension, appears to be the product of a dedicated brain organization. Support for the existence of music-specific neural networks is found in various pathological conditions that isolate musical abilities from the rest of the cognitive system. Cerebrovascular accidents, traumatic brain damage, and congenital brain anomalies can lead to selective disorders of music processing. Conversely, autism and epilepsy can reveal the autonomous functioning and the selectivity, respectively, of the neural networks that subserve music. However, brain specialization for music should not be equated with the presence of a singular "musical center" in the brain. Rather, multiple interconnected neural networks are engaged, of which some may capture the essence of brain specialization for music. The encoding of pitch along musical scales is likely such an essential component. The implications of the existence of such special-purpose cortical processes are that the human brain might be hardwired for music.

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