Functional MRI/Event-related potential study of sensory consonance and dissonance in musicians and nonmusicians

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Pleasurability of individual chords, known as sensory consonance, is widely regarded as physiologically determined and has been shown to be associated with differential activity in the auditory cortex and in several other regions. Here, we present results obtained contrasting isolated four-note chords classified as consonant or dissonant in tonal music. Using event-related functional MRI, consonant chords were found to elicit a larger haemodynamic response in the inferior and middle frontal gyri, premotor cortex and inferior parietal lobule. The effect was right lateralized for nonmusicians and less asymmetric for musicians. Using event-related potentials, the degree of sensory consonance was found to modulate the amplitude of the P1 in both groups and of the N2 in musicians only.

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