Gray- and White-Matter Anatomy of Absolute Pitch Possessors

Research output: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

Absolute pitch (AP), the ability to identify a musical pitch without a reference, has been examined behaviorally in numerous studies for more than a century, yet only a few studies have examined the neuroanatomical correlates of AP. Here, we used MRI and diffusion tensor imaging to investigate structural differences in brains of musicians with and without AP, by means of whole brain vertex- wise cortical thickness analysis and tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) analysis. AP possessors (APs) displayed increased cortical thickness in a number of areas including the left superior temporal gyrus, the left inferior frontal gyrus, and the right supramarginal gyrus. Furthermore, we found increased fractional anisotropy in APs within the path of the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, the uncinate fasciculus and the inferior longitudinal fasciculus. The findings in gray matter support previous studies indicating an increased left lateralized posterior superior temporal gyrus in APs, yet they differ from previous findings of thinner cortex for a number of areas in APs. Finally, we found a correlation between the white matter cluster and the right parahippocampal gyrus. This is a novel finding in AP research and we speculate that this may have implications for the understanding of the neuroanatomical underpinnings of AP ability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCerebral Cortex
Volume25
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1379-1388
ISSN1047-3211
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

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