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The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music$
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Isabelle Peretz and Robert J. Zatorre

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198525202

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198525202.001.0001

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Brain Specialization for Music: New Evidence from Congenital Amusia

Brain Specialization for Music: New Evidence from Congenital Amusia

(p.192) Chapter 13 Brain Specialization for Music: New Evidence from Congenital Amusia
The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music

Isabelle Peretz

Oxford University Press

This chapter briefly outlines the neuropsychological observations with special emphasis on a new condition, that of congenital amusia (also commonly referred to as tone-deafness). In particular, it summarizes the neuropsychological evidence that supports the biological perspective. It begins by introducing the specialized neural networks for music processing. It describes the localization of the music-specific networks. In addition, the content of the music-specific neural networks is discussed. It is proposed that the two anchorage points of brain specialization for music are the encoding of pitch along musical scales and the ascribing of a regular beat to incoming events. It can be concluded that appreciation of music fits well with the product of a specialized cortical arrangement that is present and functional early in human development. Hence, music does not seem to be a game for the mind, for the neurons or for the senses. Music seems to serve needs that are so important to humans that their brain has dedicated some neural space to its processing. It remains to demonstrate that these music-specific networks are fulfilling needs that are not optional but have adaptive value.

Keywords:   congenital amusia, music processing, brain specialization, music-specific neural networks, pitch

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