pitch discrimination


Summary: The ability to differentiate tones.

Top Publications

  1. Henthorn T, Deutsch D. Ethnicity versus early environment: comment on 'Early childhood music education and predisposition to absolute pitch: teasing apart genes and environment' by Peter K. Gregersen, Elena Kowalsky, Nina Kohn, and Elizabeth West Marvin [2000]. Am J Med Genet A. 2007;143A:102-3; author reply 104-5 pubmed
  2. Gaab N, Schulze K, Ozdemir E, Schlaug G. Neural correlates of absolute pitch differ between blind and sighted musicians. Neuroreport. 2006;17:1853-7 pubmed
  3. Barrett D, Hall D. Response preferences for "what" and "where" in human non-primary auditory cortex. Neuroimage. 2006;32:968-77 pubmed
    ..Our results also highlight a distinction in the sensitivity of anterior and posterior fields of PT to non-spatial information and specify the type of spatial information that is coded within early areas of the spatial processing stream. ..
  4. Rusconi E, Kwan B, Giordano B, Umiltà C, Butterworth B. The mental space of pitch height. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005;1060:195-7 pubmed
  5. Amitay S, Irwin A, Hawkey D, Cowan J, Moore D. A comparison of adaptive procedures for rapid and reliable threshold assessment and training in naive listeners. J Acoust Soc Am. 2006;119:1616-25 pubmed
    ..In four additional groups, each of ten listeners, trained on the different procedures, no differences in performance improvement or rate of learning were observed, suggesting that learning is independent of procedure. ..
  6. Williamson V, Stewart L. Memory for pitch in congenital amusia: beyond a fine-grained pitch discrimination problem. Memory. 2010;18:657-69 pubmed publisher
    ..While amusia has been associated with deficits in pitch discrimination, several reports suggest that memory deficits also play a role...
  7. Marmel F, Tillmann B, Delbé C. Priming in melody perception: tracking down the strength of cognitive expectations. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2010;36:1016-28 pubmed publisher
    ..The overall findings point out the need for controlled musical material (and notably beyond tone repetition) to study cognitive components in music perception. ..
  8. Rinne T, Koistinen S, Salonen O, Alho K. Task-dependent activations of human auditory cortex during pitch discrimination and pitch memory tasks. J Neurosci. 2009;29:13338-43 pubmed publisher
    ..functional magnetic resonance imaging of the AC and adjacent areas to compare activations during pitch discrimination and n-back pitch memory tasks that were varied parametrically in difficulty...
  9. Rahne T, Böhme L, Götze G. Timbre discrimination in cochlear implant users and normal hearing subjects using cross-faded synthetic tones. J Neurosci Methods. 2011;199:290-5 pubmed publisher
    ..The resulting individual spectral shape JND profiles reveal a maximum with a fundamental frequency of 525 Hz, whereas the JND profiles were rather flat in the normal hearing individuals. ..

More Information


  1. Petacchi A, Kaernbach C, Ratnam R, Bower J. Increased activation of the human cerebellum during pitch discrimination: a positron emission tomography (PET) study. Hear Res. 2011;282:35-48 pubmed publisher
    Recent years have seen a growing debate concerning the function of the cerebellum. Here we used a pitch discrimination task and PET to test for cerebellar involvement in the active control of sensory data acquisition...
  2. McLachlan N. A computational model of human pitch strength and height judgments. Hear Res. 2009;249:23-35 pubmed publisher
    ..Predicted pitch strength for complexes of unresolved harmonics, iterated rippled noise and amplitude modulated tones using this model also conformed to behavioral data from the literature. ..
  3. Foster N, Zatorre R. A role for the intraparietal sulcus in transforming musical pitch information. Cereb Cortex. 2010;20:1350-9 pubmed publisher
    ..Our results point to a role for the IPS in transforming high-level auditory information. We suggest that this area may support a general capacity for transformation and comparison of systematically related stimulus attributes. ..
  4. Carcagno S, Plack C. Subcortical plasticity following perceptual learning in a pitch discrimination task. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2011;12:89-100 pubmed publisher
    ..response (FFR), a subcortical component of the auditory evoked potentials, after a period of pitch discrimination training...
  5. Loui P, Schlaug G. Impaired learning of event frequencies in tone deafness. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012;1252:354-60 pubmed publisher
    ..Taken together, the results suggest that tone deafness is characterized by an impaired ability to acquire frequency information from pitched materials in the sound environment. ..
  6. D Ausilio A, Bufalari I, Salmas P, Busan P, Fadiga L. Vocal pitch discrimination in the motor system. Brain Lang. 2011;118:9-14 pubmed publisher
    ..We demonstrate that vocal pitch discrimination, in analogy with the articulatory component, requires the contribution of the motor system and that this ..
  7. Walker K, Schnupp J, Hart Schnupp S, King A, Bizley J. Pitch discrimination by ferrets for simple and complex sounds. J Acoust Soc Am. 2009;126:1321-35 pubmed publisher
    ..These results suggest that while non-human animals can be trained to label complex sounds as high or low in pitch, this task may be much more difficult for animals than simply detecting a frequency change. ..
  8. Schulze K, Gaab N, Schlaug G. Perceiving pitch absolutely: comparing absolute and relative pitch possessors in a pitch memory task. BMC Neurosci. 2009;10:106 pubmed publisher
    ..e., imagining notes on a staff or using a spatial coding for their relative pitch height) for pitch information. ..
  9. Leek M, Molis M, Kubli L, Tufts J. Enjoyment of music by elderly hearing-impaired listeners. J Am Acad Audiol. 2008;19:519-26 pubmed
  10. Behroozmand R, Korzyukov O, Larson C. ERP correlates of pitch error detection in complex tone and voice auditory feedback with missing fundamental. Brain Res. 2012;1448:89-100 pubmed publisher
    ..These effects indicate that the differential neural processing of pitch in the left and right hemispheres may enable the audio-vocal system to detect temporal and spectral variations in the auditory feedback for vocal pitch control. ..
  11. Theusch E, Basu A, Gitschier J. Genome-wide study of families with absolute pitch reveals linkage to 8q24.21 and locus heterogeneity. Am J Hum Genet. 2009;85:112-9 pubmed publisher
    ..Though only one of these regions has yet reached statistical significance individually, we detected a larger number of independent linkage peaks than expected by chance overall, indicating that AP is genetically heterogeneous. ..
  12. Won J, Drennan W, Kang R, Rubinstein J. Psychoacoustic abilities associated with music perception in cochlear implant users. Ear Hear. 2010;31:796-805 pubmed publisher
    ..The results suggest that materially improving spectral resolution could provide significant benefits in music and speech perception outcomes in CI users. ..
  13. Herholz S, Lappe C, Pantev C. Looking for a pattern: an MEG study on the abstract mismatch negativity in musicians and nonmusicians. BMC Neurosci. 2009;10:42 pubmed publisher
  14. Loui P, Alsop D, Schlaug G. Tone deafness: a new disconnection syndrome?. J Neurosci. 2009;29:10215-20 pubmed publisher
    ..between AF and auditory-motor behavior: superior and inferior AF branches predict psychophysically assessed pitch discrimination and sound production perception abilities, respectively...
  15. Parsons L, Petacchi A, Schmahmann J, Bower J. Pitch discrimination in cerebellar patients: evidence for a sensory deficit. Brain Res. 2009;1303:84-96 pubmed publisher
    ..we examined the effect of global cerebellar degeneration on primary auditory sensory function by means of a pitch discrimination task...
  16. Rohrmeier M, Rebuschat P. Implicit learning and acquisition of music. Top Cogn Sci. 2012;4:525-53 pubmed publisher
    ..Despite the body of evidence, more research is required to support the cross-cultural validity of implicit learning and to show that core and more complex music theoretical features are acquired implicitly. ..
  17. Moreau P, Jolicœur P, Peretz I. Pitch discrimination without awareness in congenital amusia: evidence from event-related potentials. Brain Cogn. 2013;81:337-44 pubmed publisher
    ..Behavioral data have indicated that it originates from a deficit in fine-grained pitch discrimination, and is expressed by the absence of a P3b event-related brain response for pitch differences smaller than a ..
  18. Bonnel A, McAdams S, Smith B, Berthiaume C, Bertone A, Ciocca V, et al. Enhanced pure-tone pitch discrimination among persons with autism but not Asperger syndrome. Neuropsychologia. 2010;48:2465-75 pubmed publisher
    ..amp; Burack, 2006), the participants with autism, but not with Asperger syndrome, displayed enhanced pitch discrimination for simple tones...
  19. Gockel H, Carlyon R, Plack C. Pitch discrimination interference between binaural and monaural or diotic pitches. J Acoust Soc Am. 2009;126:281-90 pubmed publisher
    ..et al. (2004). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 116, 1092-1104]. This "pitch discrimination interference" (PDI) is greatest when the interferer and target have similar F0s...
  20. Jones J, Zalewski C, Brewer C, Lucker J, Drayna D. Widespread auditory deficits in tune deafness. Ear Hear. 2009;30:63-72 pubmed publisher
    ..Pure-tone frequency discrimination varied widely in individuals with tune deafness, and the high degree of intertrial variability suggests that frequency discrimination may be unstable in tune-deaf individuals. ..
  21. Wunderlich A, Schönfeldt Lecuona C, Wolf R, Dorn K, Bachor E, Freund W. Cortical activation during a pitch discrimination task in tinnitus patients and controls--an fMRI study. Audiol Neurootol. 2010;15:137-48 pubmed publisher
    ..To study brain activation patterns due to acoustic stimulation in a pitch discrimination task, 6 tinnitus patients and 6 age-matched controls were investigated...
  22. Loui P. Learning and liking of melody and harmony: further studies in artificial grammar learning. Top Cogn Sci. 2012;4:554-67 pubmed publisher
    ..Results point to a possible dissociation between learning and preference in musical knowledge. ..
  23. Peretz I, Saffran J, Schon D, Gosselin N. Statistical learning of speech, not music, in congenital amusia. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012;1252:361-7 pubmed publisher
    ..Thus, inappropriate musical exposure cannot fully account for the musical disorder. Implications of the results for the domain specificity of statistical learning are discussed. ..
  24. Haro M, Serra J, Herrera P, Corral A. Zipf's law in short-time timbral codings of speech, music, and environmental sound signals. PLoS ONE. 2012;7:e33993 pubmed publisher
    ..Finally, we find that a Yule-Simon process with memory provides a reasonable quantitative approximation for our data, suggesting the existence of a common simple generative mechanism for all considered sound sources. ..
  25. Koistinen S, Rinne T, Cederström S, Alho K. Effects of significance of auditory location changes on event related brain potentials and pitch discrimination performance. Brain Res. 2012;1427:44-53 pubmed publisher
    ..In the Varying Location Condition, these changes, although irrelevant with regard to pitch discrimination, were still significant for performance as the following tones were presented from the new location where ..
  26. Fuentemilla L, Marco Pallares J, Münte T, Grau C. Theta EEG oscillatory activity and auditory change detection. Brain Res. 2008;1220:93-101 pubmed
    ..Thus, frontal and temporal MMN components do not only differ with regard to their functional significance but also appear to be generated by distinct neurophysiological mechanisms. ..
  27. Hall D, Plack C. Pitch processing sites in the human auditory brain. Cereb Cortex. 2009;19:576-85 pubmed publisher
    ..Further work should consider the functional roles of these multiple pitch processing sites within the proposed network. ..
  28. Nikjeh D, Lister J, Frisch S. Hearing of note: an electrophysiologic and psychoacoustic comparison of pitch discrimination between vocal and instrumental musicians. Psychophysiology. 2008;45:994-1007 pubmed publisher
    ..Vocal musicians with instrumental training appear to have an auditory neural advantage over instrumental or vocal only musicians. An incidental finding reveals P3a as a sensitive index of music expertise. ..
  29. Zatorre R. Neuroscience: finding the missing fundamental. Nature. 2005;436:1093-4 pubmed
  30. Purcell D, Munhall K. Adaptive control of vowel formant frequency: evidence from real-time formant manipulation. J Acoust Soc Am. 2006;120:966-77 pubmed
    ..Some participants therefore appeared to more actively stabilize their productions from trial-to-trial. The results provide insight into the perceptual control of speech and the representations that govern sensorimotor coordination. ..
  31. Winkler I, van Zuijen T, Sussman E, Horváth J, Naatanen R. Object representation in the human auditory system. Eur J Neurosci. 2006;24:625-34 pubmed
    ..Thus tones forming a spectro-temporal border are exclusively assigned to one sound object at any given time, as are spatio-temporal borders in vision. ..
  32. Bendor D, Wang X. The neuronal representation of pitch in primate auditory cortex. Nature. 2005;436:1161-5 pubmed
  33. Hill P, Hogben J, Bishop D. Auditory frequency discrimination in children with specific language impairment: a longitudinal study. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2005;48:1136-46 pubmed
    ..These studies indicate considerable heterogeneity in auditory function among children with SLI and suggest that, as with auditory temporal deficits, difficulties in FD discrimination are important in this population. ..
  34. Naatanen R, Paavilainen P, Rinne T, Alho K. The mismatch negativity (MMN) in basic research of central auditory processing: a review. Clin Neurophysiol. 2007;118:2544-90 pubmed
    ..In addition, the MMN enables one to establish the brain processes underlying the initiation of attention switch to, conscious perception of, sound change in an unattended stimulus stream. ..
  35. Bradshaw E, McHenry M. Pitch discrimination and pitch matching abilities of adults who sing inaccurately. J Voice. 2005;19:431-9 pubmed
    ..regarding singing ability has provided evidence that both supports and refutes a relationship between pitch discrimination ability and pitch production ability. Researchers have suggested that these skills improve with age...
  36. Watts C, Moore R, McCaghren K. The relationship between vocal pitch-matching skills and pitch discrimination skills in untrained accurate and inaccurate singers. J Voice. 2005;19:534-43 pubmed
    Few studies have compared the relationship between pitch discrimination accuracy and the accuracy of fundamental frequency (F(o)) control...
  37. Patel A, Foxton J, Griffiths T. Musically tone-deaf individuals have difficulty discriminating intonation contours extracted from speech. Brain Cogn. 2005;59:310-3 pubmed
    ..Thus it appears that the dissociation between spoken and musical pitch perception in tone-deaf individuals is due to a deficit at a higher level than simple pitch-change detection. ..
  38. Moreno S, Marques C, Santos A, Santos M, Castro S, Besson M. Musical training influences linguistic abilities in 8-year-old children: more evidence for brain plasticity. Cereb Cortex. 2009;19:712-23 pubmed publisher
    ..After musical (but not painting) training, children showed enhanced reading and pitch discrimination abilities in speech...
  39. Poulin Charronnat B, Bigand E, Koelsch S. Processing of musical syntax tonic versus subdominant: an event-related potential study. J Cogn Neurosci. 2006;18:1545-54 pubmed
    ..The present results are discussed in relation to previous studies investigating harmonic violations with ERPs. ..
  40. Snyder J, Alain C. Toward a neurophysiological theory of auditory stream segregation. Psychol Bull. 2007;133:780-99 pubmed
    ..A framework for future research is proposed. ..
  41. Lappe C, Herholz S, Trainor L, Pantev C. Cortical plasticity induced by short-term unimodal and multimodal musical training. J Neurosci. 2008;28:9632-9 pubmed publisher
  42. Ozaki I, Jin C, Suzuki Y, Baba M, Matsunaga M, Hashimoto I. Rapid change of tonotopic maps in the human auditory cortex during pitch discrimination. Clin Neurophysiol. 2004;115:1592-604 pubmed
    ..dipole distance between 400 and 4000 Hz tones was enlarged, especially in the right auditory cortex during pitch discrimination task, but was unchanged during the laterality discrimination task...
  43. Hyde K, Peretz I, Zatorre R. Evidence for the role of the right auditory cortex in fine pitch resolution. Neuropsychologia. 2008;46:632-9 pubmed
    ..The results support the model of relative hemispheric specialization and indicate that the right secondary auditory cortex has a finer pitch resolution than the left. ..
  44. Santurette S, Dau T. Binaural pitch perception in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners. Hear Res. 2007;223:29-47 pubmed
    ..Overall, binaural-pitch stimuli might be very useful tools within clinical diagnostics for detecting specific deficiencies in the auditory system. ..
  45. Kujala T, Lovio R, Lepistö T, Laasonen M, Naatanen R. Evaluation of multi-attribute auditory discrimination in dyslexia with the mismatch negativity. Clin Neurophysiol. 2006;117:885-93 pubmed
    ..b>Pitch discrimination is impaired in dyslexia. However, location discrimination, not addressed previously with MMN, is enhanced...
  46. Ross D, Gore J, Marks L. Absolute pitch: music and beyond. Epilepsy Behav. 2005;7:578-601 pubmed
    ..In each case, the data strongly support our model. We conclude with a general discussion on the nature of AP, the relevance of these findings for other areas of research, and future directions of study. ..
  47. Trainor L. Are there critical periods for musical development?. Dev Psychobiol. 2005;46:262-78 pubmed
    ..Much remains unknown about the mechanisms of interaction between genetic and experiential factors that create critical periods, but it is clear that there are multiple pathways for achieving musical expertise. ..
  48. Tervaniemi M, Just V, Koelsch S, Widmann A, Schroger E. Pitch discrimination accuracy in musicians vs nonmusicians: an event-related potential and behavioral study. Exp Brain Res. 2005;161:1-10 pubmed
    ..Interestingly, the superiority in pitch discrimination accuracy in musicians over nonmusicians was observed not only with the 0...
  49. Wright B, Sabin A. Perceptual learning: how much daily training is enough?. Exp Brain Res. 2007;180:727-36 pubmed
    ..These results imply that perceptual skills are transferred from short- to long-term memory (consolidated) daily, but only if a task-specific initiation requirement has been met. ..
  50. Tramo M, Cariani P, Koh C, Makris N, Braida L. Neurophysiology and neuroanatomy of pitch perception: auditory cortex. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005;1060:148-74 pubmed
    ..neurons in primary auditory cortex (A1) and surrounding fields play a critical role in fine-grained pitch discrimination at the perceptual level; (2) cortical mechanisms that detect pitch differences are neuroanatomically ..
  51. Gaab N, Gaser C, Schlaug G. Improvement-related functional plasticity following pitch memory training. Neuroimage. 2006;31:255-63 pubmed
    ..The importance of HG in pitch discrimination has been established in previous studies...
  52. Richardson U, Thomson J, Scott S, Goswami U. Auditory processing skills and phonological representation in dyslexic children. Dyslexia. 2004;10:215-33 pubmed
    ..It is argued that developmentally, amplitude envelope cues may be primary in establishing well-specified phonological representations, as these cues should yield important rhythmic and syllable-level information about speech. ..
  53. Fujioka T, Trainor L, Ross B, Kakigi R, Pantev C. Musical training enhances automatic encoding of melodic contour and interval structure. J Cogn Neurosci. 2004;16:1010-21 pubmed
    ..No hemispheric difference was found in either group. The results suggest that musical training enhances the ability to automatically register abstract changes in the relative pitch structure of melodies. ..