TUESDAY, June 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) – If the moan of your beloved music is in your ears, the reason seems to rest with a part of the brain that is super sensitive to the pitch.
That is the result of a new study that offers a fresh perspective on what makes us human.
For the research, which focused on understanding the role of music in health, researchers compared how human brains and monkey brains respond to speech and music. Most important finding: People have a much greater sensitivity to pitch than our evolutionary cousins.
"This finding suggests that speech and music have fundamentally changed the way our brain processes change," said lead author Bevil Conway, of the US National Institutes of Health. "It can also help explain why it was so difficult for scientists to train monkeys to perform auditory tasks that people find relatively effortless."
In the study, researchers played a series of harmonic sounds or tones for healthy volunteers and monkeys, and used imaging to see how their brains reacted. They also monitored brain activity in response to toneless sounds.
Although monkeys 'and humans' brains had similar hotspots in response to high-frequency sounds, a brain region called the auditory cortex was much more sensitive to human tones.
"When we added the tonal structure to the sounds, some of these regions in the human brain responded more responsively," Conway said in an NIH news release. "(So) these results suggest that the macaque monkey can experience music and other sounds differently."
And this & # 39; ear & # 39; on other primates it could be crucial to understand how the human brain developed.
Conway said the results suggest that over time, the ability to speak and make music has somehow fundamentally changed the way the human brain interprets pitch.
"It makes us wonder what kind of sounds our evolutionary ancestors have experienced," he said.
The experience of the macaque with the visual world, on the other hand, is probably comparable to that of people & # 39 ;, Conway added.
The findings appear in the June 10 issue of Nature Neuroscience.
– Alan Mozes
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SOURCE: American National Institutes of Health, press release, 10 June 2019
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