The brain mechanisms that subserve music recognition remain unclear despite increasing interest in this process. Here we report the results of a magnetoencephalography experiment to determine the temporal dynamics and spatial distribution of brain regions activated during listening to a familiar and unfamiliar instrumental melody in control adults and adults with Down syndrome (DS). In the control group, listening to the familiar melody relative to the unfamiliar melody, revealed early and significant activations in the left primary auditory cortex, followed by activity in the limbic and sensory-motor regions and finally, activation in the motor related areas. In the DS group, listening to the familiar melody relative to the unfamiliar melody revealed increased significant activations in only three regions. Activity began in the left primary auditory cortex and the superior temporal gyrus and was followed by enhanced activity in the right precentral gyrus. These data suggest that familiar music is associated with auditory-motor coupling but does not activate brain areas involved in emotional processing in DS. These findings reveal new insights on the neural basis of music perception in DS as well as the temporal course of neural activity in control adults.
Brain Cogn. 2012 Dec 27;81(2):256-262. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2012.11.007. Virji-Babul N, Moiseev A, Sun W, Feng T, Moiseeva N, Watt KJ, Huotilainen M. Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Canada. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.