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Dichotic pitch activates pitch processing centre in Heschl's gyrus

: Puschmann, S.; Uppenkamp, S.; Kollmeier, B.; Thiel, C.


NeuroImage 49 (2010), No.2, pp.1641-1649
ISSN: 1053-8119
ISSN: 1095-9572
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IDMT ()

Although several neuroimaging studies have reported pitch-evoked activations at the lateral end of Heschl's gyrus, it is still under debate whether these findings truly represent activity in relation to the perception of pitch or merely stimulus-related features of pitch-evoking sounds. We investigated this issue in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment using pure tones in noise and dichotic pitch sequences, which either contained a melody or a fixed pitch. Dichotic pitch evokes a sensation of pitch only in binaural listening conditions, while the monaural signal cannot be distinguished from random noise. Our data show similar neural activations for both tones in noise and dichotic pitch, which are perceptually similar, but physically different. Pitch-related activation was found at the lateral end of Heschl's gyrus in both hemispheres, providing new evidence for a general involvement of this region in pitch processing. In line with prior studies, we found melody-related activation in Planum temporale and Planum polare, but not in primary auditory areas. These results support the view of a general representation of pitch in auditory cortex, irrespective of the physical attributes of the pitch-evoking sound.