The perception of musical phrase structure: A cross-cultural ERP study

Electroencephalography (EEG) was used in a cross-cultural music study investigating phrase boundary perception. Chinese and German musicians performed a cultural categorization task under Chinese and Western music listening conditions. Western music was the major subject for both groups of musicians, while Chinese music was familiar to Chinese subjects only. By manipulating the presence of pauses between two phrases in the biphrasal melodies, EEG correlates for the perception of phrase boundaries were found in both groups under both music listening conditions. Between 450 and 600 ms, the music CPS (closure positive shift), which had been found in earlier studies with a false tone detection task, was replicated for the more global categorization task and for all combinations of subject group and musical style. At short latencies (100 and 450 ms post phrase boundary offset), EEG correlates varied as a function of musical styles and subject group. Both bottom–up (style properties of the music) and top–down (acculturation of the subjects) information interacted during this early processing stage.

Selected Publications

Yun Nan, Thomas R. Knösche, and Angela D. Friederici, "The perception of musical phrase structure: A cross-cultural ERP study," Brain Research 1094 (1), 179-191 (2006).
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