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Subcortical representation of musical dyads: Individual differences and neural generators

Bones, Oliver and Plack, Christopher J (2015) Subcortical representation of musical dyads: Individual differences and neural generators. Hearing Research, 323. pp. 9-21. ISSN 0378-5955

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Abstract

When two notes are played simultaneously they form a musical dyad. The sensation of pleasantness, or “consonance”, of a dyad is likely driven by the harmonic relation of the frequency components of the combined spectrum of the two notes. Previous work has demonstrated a relation between individual preference for consonant over dissonant dyads, and the strength of neural temporal coding of the harmonicity of consonant relative to dissonant dyads as measured using the electrophysiological “frequency-following response” (FFR). However, this work also demonstrated that both these variables correlate strongly with musical experience. The current study was designed to determine whether the relation between consonance preference and neural temporal coding is maintained when controlling for musical experience. The results demonstrate that strength of neural coding of harmonicity is predictive of individual preference for consonance even for non-musicians. An additional purpose of the current study was to assess the cochlear generation site of the FFR to low-frequency dyads. By comparing the reduction in FFR strength when high-pass masking noise was added to the output of a model of the auditory periphery, the results provide evidence for the FFR to low-frequency dyads resulting in part from basal cochlear generators.

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