Neural substrates of processing syntax and semantics in music

  • Stefan Koelsch


Growing evidence indicates that syntax and semantics are the basic aspects of music. After the onset of a chord, initial music-syntactic processing can be observed at about 150–400 ms and processing of musical semantics at about 300–500 ms. Processing of musical syntax activates inferior frontolateral cortex, ventrolateral premotor cortex and presumably the anterior part of the superior temporal gyrus. These brain structures have been implicated in sequencing of complex auditory information, identification of structural relationships, and serial prediction. Processing of musical semantics appears to activate posterior temporal regions. The processes and brain structures involved in the perception of syntax and semantics in music have considerable overlap with those involved in language perception, underlining intimate links between music and language in the human brain.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Koelsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Junior Research Group Neurocognition of MusicMax Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain SciencesLeipzigGermany

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