What is it about?
Pitch is frequently described as bi-dimensional, comprised of a monotonically increasing dimension termed height and a circular dimension termed chroma, accounting for 'octave equivalence'. Using the Mismatch-negativity (MMN) event-related potential (ERP) as an index of pre-attentive processing, we discovered that while height does not require attention for processing, chroma does.
Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash
Why is it important?
It is a long lasting debate whether octave equivalence is a universal, basic property of pitch. This study gives some evidence against the claim for octave universality. At least, it suggests that there is no neural representation of chroma in auditory cortex, i.e. no neurons that generalize across octaves (irrespective of timbre).
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This page is a summary of: Evidence for Linear but Not Helical Automatic Representation of Pitch in the Human Auditory System, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, May 2019, The MIT Press, DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_01374.
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