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The effect of conditional probability of chord progression on brain response: An MEG study

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Kim, S.-G., Kim, J. S., & Chung, C. K. (2011). The effect of conditional probability of chord progression on brain response: An MEG study. PLoS One, 6(2): e17337. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017337.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-8D9A-B
Abstract
Background Recent electrophysiological and neuroimaging studies have explored how and where musical syntax in Western music is processed in the human brain. An inappropriate chord progression elicits an event-related potential (ERP) component called an early right anterior negativity (ERAN) or simply an early anterior negativity (EAN) in an early stage of processing the musical syntax. Though the possible underlying mechanism of the EAN is assumed to be probabilistic learning, the effect of the probability of chord progressions on the EAN response has not been previously explored explicitly. Methodology/Principal Findings In the present study, the empirical conditional probabilities in a Western music corpus were employed as an approximation of the frequencies in previous exposure of participants. Three types of chord progression were presented to musicians and non-musicians in order to examine the correlation between the probability of chord progression and the neuromagnetic response using magnetoencephalography (MEG). Chord progressions were found to elicit early responses in a negatively correlating fashion with the conditional probability. Observed EANm (as a magnetic counterpart of the EAN component) responses were consistent with the previously reported EAN responses in terms of latency and location. The effect of conditional probability interacted with the effect of musical training. In addition, the neural response also correlated with the behavioral measures in the non-musicians. Conclusions/Significance Our study is the first to reveal the correlation between the probability of chord progression and the corresponding neuromagnetic response. The current results suggest that the physiological response is a reflection of the probabilistic representations of the musical syntax. Moreover, the results indicate that the probabilistic representation is related to the musical training as well as the sensitivity of an individual.