Pitch-related mismatch negativity as an index of musical aptitude

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The Musical Ear Test (MET) is a short, reliable, and easily accessible behavioral test of musical aptitude. While studies have consistently shown that MMN(m) amplitude correlates with behavior, the vast majority of these studies use either between-groups or within-subjects designs. Inter-individual analyses are needed to assess whether the MMN(m) co-varies with auditory and musical skills. Here, we correlated individual MMNm amplitudes with behavioral MET(melodic) scores, pitch discrimination thresholds, pitch discrimination reaction time measurements, and a self-report measure of general musical sophistication in participants exhibiting a wide range of auditory and musical abilities, i.e. musicians and non-musicians (n = 44). We analyzed gradiometer data in sensor-space, focusing exclusively on the auditory condition of an audio-visual MEG experiment in which we recorded MMNm to 20 cents pure tone pitch deviants (full experiment reported in Møller et al., in prep). In the left hemisphere, MMNm amplitude correlated significantly with MET(melodic) scores, pitch discrimination thresholds, and reaction time measurements. Specifically, behavioral performance improved with larger MMNm amplitudes. Although general musical sophistication correlated strongly with MET scores and pitch discrimination thresholds and moderately with reaction time, this self-reported measure failed to reach significance for MMNm amplitudes. Significant correlations were absent between right hemisphere MMNm and all behavioral measures. These results provide the first reported case of MET-MMNm correlations, pointing to the superiority of aptitude tests as the MET over self-report measures of musical ability. Taken together, this may pave the way for pitch-MMNm as a reliable index of inter-individual differences in auditory and musical skills.
Original languageDanish
Publication year13 Jun 2018
StatePublished - 13 Jun 2018
Event MMN2018: The 8th Mis­match Neg­at­iv­ity conference - Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 12 Jun 201815 Jun 2018


Conference MMN2018: The 8th Mis­match Neg­at­iv­ity conference
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