Music-Selective Neural Populations Arise Without Musical Training


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Recent work has shown that human auditory cortex contains neural populations anterior and posterior to primary auditory cortex that respond selectively to music. However, it is unknown how this selectivity for music arises. To test whether musical training is necessary, we measured fMRI responses to 192 natural sounds in 10 people with almost no musical training. When voxel responses were decomposed into underlying components, this group exhibited a music-selective component that was very similar in response profile and anatomical distribution to that previously seen in individuals with moderate musical training. We also found that musical genres that were less familiar to our participants (e.g., Balinese gamelan) produced strong responses within the music component, as did drum clips with rhythm but little melody, suggesting that these neural populations are broadly responsive to music as a whole. Our findings demonstrate that the signature properties of neural music selectivity do not require musical training to develop, showing that the music-selective neural populations are a fundamental and widespread property of the human brain. NEW & NOTEWORTHY We show that music-selective neural populations are clearly present in people without musical training, demonstrating that they are a fundamental and widespread property of the human brain. Additionally, we show music-selective neural populations respond strongly to music from unfamiliar genres as well as music with rhythm but little pitch information, suggesting that they are broadly responsive to music as a whole.
< em > auditory cortex <, em >, < em > decomposition <, em >, < em > expertise <, em >, < em > fMRI <, em >, < em > music <, em >
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