Previous studies consistently identified several spectrum-related acoustic features that contribute to the perception of timbre, such as the spectral center of gravity and spectrum fine structure (Caclin et al., Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Library clinical trial 2005, 2008). Therefore, greater sensitivity to such spectral properties of sound may lead to better neural encoding and enhanced perceptual processing of various timbres, both familiar and novel. This issue requires further study. Another interpretation of a larger N1 peak amplitude in musicians is possible – namely, it may index a greater attentional allocation to auditory stimuli in this group of participants. Whether the enhancement of early
sensory components in musicians is due at least in part to differences in attentional
modulation is a topic of ongoing debate. However, in a recent study, Baumann et al. (2008) directly compared the N1 and P2 components in musicians to the same sounds in two different tasks. In one, participants Selleckchem Trametinib had to attend to certain sound properties (such as pitch and timbre) while in another they did not. The authors demonstrated that intentionally directing attention to sound properties did not increase the amplitude of the N1 and P2 components and therefore concluded that the previously reported enhancement of these components in musicians is due to greater auditory expertise and not to differences 5-FU supplier in attentional allocation between musicians and non-musicians. Studies on vocal and musical timbre perception tend to focus either on musical timbre perception
in musicians or on vocal timbre perception in the general population; however, few bridge these two broad areas. For example, Pantev et al. (2001) compared magnetoencephalographic recordings to violin and trumpet notes in violinists and trumpeters and found that the amplitude of N1m was larger to violin notes than to trumpet notes in the group of violinists and larger to trumpet notes than to violin notes in the group of trumpeters. The authors concluded that their results support timbre-specific enhancement of brain responses in musicians, which was dependent on the instrument of training. This finding has been supported by other studies. Shahin et al. (2008) reported greater induced gamma band activity in pianists and violinists, specifically for the instrument of practice. Musicians also show greater activation in an extensive network of brain regions in the left hemisphere (including the precentral gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus, the inferior parietal lobule and the medial frontal gyrus) when listening to a musical piece played in their instrument of training as compared with a different instrument (Margulis et al., 2009). Such sensitivity to the timbre of the instrument of training is already evident at the subcortical level as has been shown by Strait et al.