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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00090

Cortical sensitivity to guitar note patterns: EEG entrainment to repetition and key

  • 1Mind Research Network, USA
  • 2Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of New Mexico, USA
  • 3MARC Program, University of New Mexico, USA

Music is ubiquitous throughout recent human culture, and many individual’s have an innate ability to appreciate and understand music. Our appreciation of music likely emerges from the brain’s ability to process a series of repeated complex acoustic patterns. In order to understand these processes further, cortical responses were measured to a series of guitar notes presented with a musical pattern or without a pattern. ERP responses to individual notes were measured using a 24 electrode Bluetooth mobile EEG system (Smarting mBrainTrain) while 13 healthy non-musicians listened to structured (i.e. within musical keys and with repetition) or random sequences of guitar notes for 10 minutes each. We demonstrate an increased amplitude to the ERP that appears ~200 ms to notes presented within the musical sequence. This amplitude difference between random notes and patterned notes likely reflects individual’s cortical sensitivity to guitar note patterns. These amplitudes were compared to ERP responses to a rare note embedded within a stream of frequent notes to determine whether the sensitivity to complex musical structure overlaps with the sensitivity to simple irregularities reflected in traditional auditory oddball experiments. Response amplitudes to the negative peak at ~175ms are statistically correlated with the mismatch negativity (MMN) response measured to a rare note presented among a series of frequent notes (i.e. in a traditional oddball sequence), but responses to the subsequent positive peak at ~200 do not show a statistical relationship with the P300 response. Thus, the sensitivity to musical structure identified to 4 Hz note patterns appears somewhat distinct from the sensitivity to statistical regularities reflected in the traditional “auditory oddball” sequence. Overall, we suggest that this is a promising approach to examine individual's sensitivity to complex acoustic patterns, which may overlap with higher level cognitive processes, including language.

Keywords: mobile EEG, Music, melody, MMN, P300, oddball, Guitar, acoustic, frequency tagging, Steady State EEG

Citation: Bridwell DA, Leslie E, McCoy D, Plis SM and Calhoun VD (2017). Cortical sensitivity to guitar note patterns: EEG entrainment to repetition and key. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 11:90. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00090

Received: 28 Sep 2016; Accepted: 14 Feb 2017.

Edited by:

Klaus Gramann, Technical University of Berlin, Germany

Reviewed by:

Evangelos Paraskevopoulos, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Grace Leslie, University of California, San Diego, USA  

Copyright: © 2017 Bridwell, Leslie, McCoy, Plis and Calhoun. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. David A. Bridwell, Mind Research Network, Albuquerque, USA,