Mental concerts: Musical imagery and auditory cortex

Robert J. Zatorre, McGill University
Andrea R. Halpern, Bucknell University


Most people intuitively understand what it means to “hear a tune in your head.” Converging evidence now indicates that auditory cortical areas can be recruited even in the absence of sound and that this corresponds to the phenomenological experience of imagining music. We discuss these findings as well as some methodological challenges. We also consider the role of core versus belt areas in musical imagery, the relation between auditory and motor systems during imagery of music performance, and practical implications of this research.