Brainstem correlates of behavioral and compositional preferences of musical harmony
Certain chords are preferred by listeners behaviorally and also occur with higher regularity in musical composition. Event-related potentials index the perceived consonance (i.e., pleasantness) of musical pitch relationships providing a cortical neural correlate for such behavioral preferences. Here, we show correlates of these harmonic preferences exist at subcortical stages of audition. Brainstem frequency-following responses were measured in response to four prototypical musical triads. Pitch salience computed from frequency-following responses correctly predicted the ordering of triadic harmony stipulated by music theory (i.e., major >minor >>diminished >augmented). Moreover, neural response magnitudes showed high correspondence with listeners' perceptual ratings of the same chords. Results suggest that preattentive stages of pitch processing may contribute to perceptual judgments of musical harmony. © 2011 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Bidelman, G., & Krishnan, A. (2011). Brainstem correlates of behavioral and compositional preferences of musical harmony. NeuroReport, 22 (5), 212-216. https://doi.org/10.1097/WNR.0b013e328344a689