Neurodynamics of Harmony and Tonality

Neural oscillation is a dynamic activity observed throughout the central nervous system, including various stages of the auditory system. We propose that nonlinear oscillatory dynamics in the auditory system is an important neural basis for perceptual phenomena related to harmony and tonality in music. To study neurodynamic properties of the auditory system, we use simple mathematical models of neural oscillation (called canonical models) and simulate auditory perception using multilayered networks of neural oscillators. We show that nonlinear resonance and plasticity in neural networks can explain many aspects of harmony and tonality perception, such as perceived hierarchies of tonal stability, melodic attraction and expectation, Hebbian learning of tonal regularities, relative stability of pitch intervals in memory, and categorical perception of pitch intervals.
  • Large E. W., Kim J. C., Flaig N. K., Bharucha J. J., & Krumhansl C. L. (2016). A neurodynamic account of musical tonality. Music Perception33, 319-331. [pdf]
  • Kim, J. C., & Large, E. W. (2015). Nonlinear resonance and plasticity as a basis for musical consonance. Neuroscience 2015, Chicago, IL. [poster]
  • Lerud, K., Almonte, F. V., Kim, J. C., & Large, E. W. (2014). Mode-locking neurodynamics predict human auditory brainstem responses to musical intervals. Hearing Research, 308, 41-49. [pdf]

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Nonlinear resonances underlying musical intervals (SfN 2012 poster)