Event Abstract

Musical training enhances multisensory magnitude judgements

  • 1 School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2 School of Biology, Faculty of Science, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

The approximate number system (ANS) is the cognitive domain that underlies quantitative judgments of non-symbolic nature. Recent studies dissociate brain processing of symbolic to non-symbolic relations, but neuroimaging data indicate at least a partial overlapping of the corresponding neural representations. Multisensory integration infiltrates ANS, as the processing of corresponding information can be additionally enhanced by convergent multisensory input. Nonetheless, it is not yet clear how training induced plasticity affects the processing capacity of ANS, especially within a multisensory context. The scope of this study is to differentiate the uni- and multi-sensory elements that underpin multisensory judgments of magnitude. In order to investigate that, we used electroencephalographic (EEG) measurements to assess the cortical responses generated by the violation of symbolic and non-symbolic audiovisual representations of magnitude. A multifeature oddball paradigm merging audiovisual, auditory and visual incongruencies permitted us to discriminate the uni- and multi-sensory components of the corresponding responses. Training induced plasticity supporting this process was investigated by comparing the responses of musicians to non-musicians. Audiovisual congruent and incongruent stimuli were prepared by combining melodies consisting of 5 tones with 5 images presenting circles. In the congruent condition, the visual and the auditory part of the stimuli were combined according to the rule “the higher the pitch, the higher the amount of circles presented”. This rule was known to the participants from the beginning of the experimental procedure. The audiovisual incongruent stimuli violated the above stated rule, while the auditory ones did not violate the rule but included a tone with a different timbre, the visual ones circles in a different color and the symbolic magnitude incongruent stimuli presented the corresponding Arabic number instead of circles. EEG recordings were performed in an electrically shielded, sound and light attenuated room using a Nihon Kohden system with 128 active electrodes. Current Density Reconstructions (CDRs) of brain responses of each subject, and each condition, were calculated using sLORETA to solve the inverse problem. Statistical Parametric Mapping 8 (SPM8, http://www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/spm) was used to statistically assess the corresponding CDRs following a mixed model analysis. Results showed statistically significant differences in the cortical responses of musicians and non-musicians in regions that are known to contribute to multisensory processing of abstract stimuli, as well as in regions that are correlated with symbolic and non-symbolic magnitude judgements. The findings of the present study argue that long term musical training induces neuroplastic effects that enhance multisensory magnitude judgements in a neurophysiological level, indicating the presence of a generalization effect of musically induced plasticity instead of task specificity.

Keywords: multisensory integration, approximate number system, neuroscience of music, Cortical Plasticity, EEG

Conference: SAN2016 Meeting, Corfu, Greece, 6 Oct - 9 Oct, 2016.

Presentation Type: Oral presentation in the Symposium in Neurosciences and Music

Topic: Symposium in Neurosciences and Music

Citation: Paraskevopoulos E, Chalas N, Foroglou N and Bamidis PD (2016). Musical training enhances multisensory magnitude judgements. Conference Abstract: SAN2016 Meeting. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2016.220.00099

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Received: 29 Jul 2016; Published Online: 01 Aug 2016.

* Correspondence: Dr. Evangelos Paraskevopoulos, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece, parasvag@gmail.com

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