Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione     
Bonfiglio L., Virgillito A., Magrini M., Piarulli A., Bergamasco M., Barcaro U., Rossi B., Salvetti O., Carboncini M. C. N400-like responses to three-chord harmonic sequences with unexpected out-of-key endings: scalp topography, cortical sources, and perspectives for a clinical use. In: Archives Italiennes de Biologie, vol. 153 pp. 1 - 18. Pisa University Press, 2015.
A series of ERP components, each provided with both a precise timing with respect to stimulation and a specific cortical localization, reflects the temporal succession of processing stages of music information. This makes the musical stimulus potentially usable to probe residual brain functions in non-communicating patients with disorders of consciousness. In an attempt to find a simple stimulation protocol that was suitable for use in a clinical setting, the purpose of this study was to verify whether a minimum-length musical stimulus, provided with a definite music-syntactic connotation, was still able to elicit musical ERPs in a group of eight healthy subjects. The stimulus was composed of the minimum number of chords necessary and sufficient to enable the subject to predict a plausible closure of the sequence (priming) and, at the same time, to provide him/her with the closing chord of the sequence (target), either congruous (probable closing) or not (improbable closing) to the tonal context. The subject's task was to discriminate and recognize the irregular targets. The components that were expected to be elicited, in this experimental situation, were ERAN, N5, P600/LPC. Conversely, in addition to these former components, we unexpectedly observed a N400-like component. To determine whether this component was a real N400, we submitted our data to a sLORETA analysis in order to identify its cortical generators. Irregular chords showed higher current densities with respect to regular ones on the right-sided medial and superior temporal gyri, superior and inferior parietal lobules, fusiform and parahippocampal gyri, and on the bilateral posterior cingulate cortex. In particular, the N400-like wave seems to share with the word-primed music-elicited N400 certain generators that are located in cortical areas BA 21/37 and BA 22. This suggests that even chord-primed chord targets can convey extra-musical meanings and that, consequently, they might be useful in assessing residual higher-order information-processing capabilities in non-communicating patients with disorders of consciousness.
URL: http://www.architalbiol.org/aib/article/view/1531
DOI: 10.12871/00039829201511
Subject EEG Processing
Brain and Music
Cognitive Neurosciences

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