Bach Speaks: neuronal network for Music and Language

Bach Speaks: A Cortical “Language-Network” Serves the Processing of Music
Stefan Koelsch,*,†,1 Thomas C. Gunter,* D. Yves v. Cramon,* Stefan Zysset,*
Gabriele Lohmann,* and Angela D. Friederici*
*Max Planck Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Leipzig, Germany; and †Department of Neurology,
Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02215

The aim of the present study was the investigation of neural correlates of music processing with fMRI. Chord sequences were presented to the participants, infrequently containing unexpected musical events. These events activated the areas of Broca and Wernicke, the superior temporal sulcus, Heschl’s gyrus, both planum polare and planum temporale, as well as the anterior superior insular cortices. Some of these brain structures have previously been shown to be
involved in music processing, but the cortical network comprising all these structures has up to now been thought to be domain-specific for language processing. To what extent this network might also be activated by the processing of non-linguistic information has remained unknown. The present fMRI-data reveal that the human brain employs this neuronal network also for the processing of musical information, suggesting that the cortical network known to support
language processing is less domain-specific than previously believed.

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