The human ‘pitch center’ responds differently to iterated noise and Huggins pitch

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A magnetoencephalographic marker for pitch analysis (the pitch onset response) has been reported for different types of pitch-evoking stimuli, irrespective of whether the acoustic cues for pitch are monaurally or binaurally produced. It is claimed that the pitch onset response reflects a common cortical representation for pitch, putatively in lateral Heschl's gyrus. The result of this functional MRI study sheds doubt on this assertion. We report a direct comparison between iterated ripple noise and Huggins pitch in which we reveal a different pattern of auditory cortical activation associated with each pitch stimulus, even when individual variability in structure–function relations is accounted for. Our results suggest it may be premature to assume that lateral Heschl's gyrus is a universal pitch center.

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