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A new multifeature mismatch negativity (MMN) paradigm for the study of music perception with more real-sounding stimuli

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The MMN is a brain response elicited by deviants in a series of repetitive sounds that has been valuable for the study of music perception. However, most MMN experimental designs use simple tone patterns as stimuli, failing to represent the complexity of everyday music. Our goal was to develop a new paradigm using more real-sounding stimuli. Concretely, we wanted to assess the perception of nonrepetitive melodies when presented alone and when embedded in two-part music. An Alberti bass used previously served both as a comparison and as the second voice in the two-part stimuli. We used MEG to record nonmusicians’ responses to four deviants (mistuning, intensity, timbre and slide), while they watched a silent movie and listened to music in four conditions: bass only (“bass”), melody only (“melody”), bass in a high pitch range (“bass high”), and bass and melody together (“together”). We found MMNs for all deviants in the “melody” condition. However, mistunings and slide MMNs were reduced compared to the “bass high” condition, probably due to the higher pitch complexity of the melodies. Moreover, we found reduced MMNs in the two-part excerpts, likely due to competition for neural resources. Interestingly, this reduction did not hold for mistunings and slide in the melody, probably due to interval mistuning and the high voice superiority effect. Our results indicate that it is possible to use the MMN for the study of more real-sounding music and that stimulus complexity plays a crucial role in auditory discrimination as reflected in the MMN.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year26 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2017
EventDonders Discussions 2017 - Nejmegen, Netherlands
Duration: 26 Oct 201727 Oct 2017


ConferenceDonders Discussions 2017

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