Musical training is required for individuals to correctly label musical modes using the terms “major” and “minor,” whereas no training is required to label these modes as “happy” or “sad.” Despite the high accuracy of nonmusicians in happy/sad labeling,previous research suggests that these individuals may exhibit differences in the neural response to the critical note—the note (the third of the relevant key) that defines a melody as major or minor. The current study replicates the presence of a late positive component (LPC) to the minor melody in musicians only. Importantly, we also extend this finding to examine additional neural correlates of critical notes in a melody. Although there was no evidence of an LPC response to a second occurrence of the critical note in either group, there was a strong early right anterior negativity response in the inferior frontal gyrus in musicians in response to the first critical note in the minor mode. This response was sufficient to classify participants based on their musical training group. Furthermore, there were no differences in prefrontal asymmetry in the alpha or beta bands during the critical notes. These findings support the hypothesis thatmusical training may enhance the neural response to the information content of critical note in a minor scale but not the neural response to the emotional content of a melody.
Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience
Centanni, Tracy M.; Halpern, Andrea; Seisler, Andrea R.; and Wenger, Michael. "Context-dependent Neural Responses to Minor Notes in Frontal and Temporal Regions Distinguish Musicians from Nonmusicians." (2020) : 551-564.