The relation of space and musical pitch in the brain
Dolscheid, S., Willems, R. M., Hagoort, P., & Casasanto, D.
The relation of space and musical pitch in the brain. In P. Bello, M. Guarini, M. McShane, & B. Scassellati (Eds.
), Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2014)
(pp. 421-426). Austin, Tx: Cognitive Science Society.
Numerous experiments show that space and musical pitch are
closely linked in people's minds. However, the exact nature of
space-pitch associations and their neuronal underpinnings are
not well understood. In an fMRI experiment we investigated
different types of spatial representations that may underlie
musical pitch. Participants judged stimuli that varied in
spatial height in both the visual and tactile modalities, as well
as auditory stimuli that varied in pitch height. In order to
distinguish between unimodal and multimodal spatial bases of
musical pitch, we examined whether pitch activations were
present in modality-specific (visual or tactile) versus
multimodal (visual and tactile) regions active during spatial
height processing. Judgments of musical pitch were found to
activate unimodal visual areas, suggesting that space-pitch
associations may involve modality-specific spatial
representations, supporting a key assumption of embodied
theories of metaphorical mental representation.