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Neural and perceptual correlates of modal incongruence between local and global syntax

Neural and perceptual correlates of modal incongruence between local and global syntax

Presenter Name:Hannah Choi

School/Affiliation:Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), Stanford University

Co-Authors:Takako Fujioka


In Western tonal music, cadences consist of two fundamental chords that conclude musical phrases. Cadence types with endings increasingly deviating from the tonic introduce more syntactic irregularities. ERPs such as the early right anterior negativity (ERAN), P3, and N5 have been observed for highly irregular cadences concluding on a Neapolitan chord. The present ERP study examines more realistic cadence types to investigate how a pre-cadential context may interact with local syntactic processing. Particularly, a parallel-mode tonic final chord is of interest because it is locally valid but globally irregular. We recorded EEG from 39 young adults while listening to 8 cadences with 4 types (Authentic, Parallel-mode Tonic (PMT), Deceptive, Neapolitan) and 2 pre-cadential modes (major, minor). Compared to the Authentic, all three deviant cadence types elicited an ERAN, P3, and N5. The ERAN in the frontocentral region was the largest for the Neapolitan, while similar for the PMT and Deceptive cadences. Subsequently (600-1000ms), the difference between major-context PMT and Authentic cadences produced a left-lateralized negativity and right-lateralized positivity, while the minor counterpart resulted in the opposite polarity with reduced amplitude. While this polarity difference likely reflects the mode of the final chord, the amplitude asymmetry suggests that a minor-to-major shift is more acceptable despite modal incongruence. Additionally, this minor-context PMT cadence also elicited ERP differences (200-600ms) between musically trained and untrained groups. These patterns align with participants’ degree of completion ratings. The ERAN and subsequent ERPs index not only local syntactic regularity but also global contextual processing in tonal music. 

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