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Music and the Brain
Activity and connectivity throughout the human brain enable the complex experience of music.
In recent years, the cognitive neuroscience of music has captured increasing inter- est from scientists, scholars, and the public alike. Part of this interest comes from methodological advancements to examine the living human brain. Another source of interest comes from an increased awareness of the value of interdisciplinary research. Researchers come from diverse backgrounds, ranging from neurobiology to music education. This brings about a diversity of ideas. Finally, interest comes from the possibility that findings may translate toward better tools for music therapy, something that is being applied to an increasing variety of neurological and psy- chiatric disorders. Even for the healthy brain, there is a push toward using music to improve mood and cognition both in adulthood and in development.
This article reviews recent advances in the cognitive neuroscience of music, with special attention to the cognitive neuroscience of pitch, rhythm, harmony, and melody. We begin with a brief introduction of the tools in use to examine musical functions in the brain with both spatial and temporal accuracy and precision. This is followed by a brief overview of brain functions that enable perception of musi- cal pitch, timbre, rhythm, harmony, and melody. Finally, we examine the role of expectation and reward as a guiding principle for why humans appreciate music.
 Psyche Loui
Department of Music and Center for Brain and Cognitive Health Northeastern University 360 Huntington Avenue Boston, Massachusetts 02115 USA
Alexander Belden
Department of Biology and Center for Brain and Cognitive Health Northeastern University 360 Huntington Avenue Boston, Massachusetts 02115 USA
Tools and Principles
To detect brain activity, the best currently available methods trade off in spatial reso- lution, temporal resolution, and invasiveness (Figure 1A). Because music perception and cognition studies primarily require awake and behaving human subjects, the majority of cognitive neuroscience studies in music have used noninvasive methods. These include electroencephalography (EEG), structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and neuropsychologi- cal testing on special populations as well as noninvasive brain stimulation methods to perturb normal brain activity reversibly. Here we review methodologies and findings as they directly relate to music. For a more comprehensive overview or for a more general introduction into human neuroanatomy, the reader is directed to more general texts in cognitive neuroscience (e.g., Purves et al., 2008).
Since its discovery in the 1920s, EEG continues to be a relatively low-cost, efficient technique for recording brain activity with high temporal resolution. The technique involves fixing an array of electrodes on the surface of the scalp. The electrodes register changes in local field potentials that come from neural populations that respond to stimulus events. Event-related potential (ERP) is an application of the technique that allows researchers to link specific patterns of brain electrical poten- tials to stimulus events by repeatedly presenting stimuli of interest while recording with EEG and then averaging the EEG data across the repeated stimulus presenta- tions (Figure 1B).
©2019 Acoustical Society of America. All rights reserved. volume 15, issue 4 | Winter 2019 | Acoustics Today | 29

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