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Behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of auditory perception and memory : evidence from congenital amusia

Abstract : The aim of this PhD thesis is to further our understanding about how humans perceive and nmemorize complex sound structures. We investigated the behavioral and cerebral correlates of auditory perception and memory for isolated tones, musical sequences, and verbal material both in typical listeners and in individuals presenting a lifelong disorder of music perception that has been referred to as congenital amusia. Using behavioral approaches, we demonstrated that amusic individuals’ deficits in the pitch dimension are related to impairments both in the encoding of short tones and in the short term retention of pitch information. Using multimodal neuroimaging methods (MRI, MEG, fMRI) we observed anatomical and functional abnormalities in the amusic brain, mostly in the right frontal cortex and in the right auditory cortex. Functional abnormalities were observed at each level of processing in short-term memory tasks, that is for encoding, retention, and retrieval of the melodic information. In contrast, for verbal material, amusic participants recruited similar brain regions as those observed for controls, thus suggesting that separate neural resources support tonal and verbal memory. Based on the conclusions made on these first three studies, we explored two approaches aiming to boost pitch processing abilities in amusia; 1) by investigating whether implicit knowledge of the western tonal musical system could influence their short-term memory abilities, and 2) by exploring whether amusic individuals’ altered encoding of short tones could be improved by audio-visual interactions These investigations were encouraging and provide the first steps toward designing tools of rehabilitation in this musical disorder. To conclude, it is worth underlining that these studies also improve our understanding of music processing in general, which is the subject of an increasing research domain that is often making the parallel to language processing
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Philippe Albouy. Behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of auditory perception and memory : evidence from congenital amusia. Neurons and Cognition [q-bio.NC]. Université Claude Bernard - Lyon I, 2013. English. ⟨NNT : 2013LYO10316⟩. ⟨tel-01148531⟩

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