Musicianship and neural synchronization at multiple timescales
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 09:20 by Gabriel A. Nespoli
Auditory events can be considered to have spectral energy at short and long timescales, corresponding to the musical phenomena of pitch and pulse. Neural synchronization—when neurons synchronize their firing with external oscillatory stimuli—can be measured using spectral EEG at both subcortical and cortical levels. It has been shown that subcortical synchronization to tones is more robust in musicians than nonmusicians, suggesting a type of experience-dependent plasticity; a similar test for long timescales has not been investigated. In the current study, EEG was measured from musicians and nonmusicians while they listened to an isochronous sequence of tones. Neural synchronization at short timescales was found to be stronger in musicians. Additionally, the extent of synchronization correlated with the current level of musical engagement. These findings indicate that the experience-dependent plasticity observed in musicians manifests itself at multiple cortical levels corresponding to oscillations at different timescales present in music.