ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (11): 1865-1876.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2017.01865

• Special Column for Psychology of Music • Previous Articles     Next Articles

 The cognitive and neural mechanisms of absolute pitch

 HOU Jiancheng1; SONG Bei2,3; ZHOU Jiaxian2; SUN Changan4; ZHU Haidong5   

  1.  (1 Department of Radiology, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison 53726, USA) (2 School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China) (3 Music Conservatory of Harbin, Harbin, China) (4 School of Education and Public Administration, Suzhou University of Science and Technology, Suzhou 215009, China) (5 Department of Psychology, Shihezi University, Shihezi 832003, China)
  • Received:2017-02-26 Online:2017-11-15 Published:2017-09-25
  • Contact: SONG Bei, E-mail:; ZHOU Jiaxian, E-mail: E-mail:E-mail:; E-mail:
  • Supported by:

Abstract:  Absolute pitch (AP) is a rare ability to process music pitch; it also has the special cognitive and neural basis. The studies by event-related potentials showed that AP musicians use less working memory but with multiple cognitive strategies during AP processing. Functional neuroimaging studies showed that the left posterior dorsolateral frontal cortex and the left planum temporale are very important to AP musicians, but the involvements in some right cerebral regions indicate the increased load and difficulty during pitch processing in quasi-AP musicians. Structural neuroimaging studies showed the special morphometry of the left planum temporale as well as the white matter structure in AP musicians. Future research needs to further divide AP ability into “with relative pitch ability” and “without relative pitch ability” together with their cognitive and neural basis, and investigate the effect of gene polymorphism on AP ability through imaging genomics, and also necessarily examine the neural basis of pitch processing in the musicians with native tonal language.

Key words: absolute pitch, functional correlate, structural correlate

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