Brain Mechanism in Music

Prolegomena for a Theory of the Meaning of Meaning
  • Karl H. Pribram


Research into the relationship between musical abilities and the brain has benefited from a series of recent technical innovations. These have made possible two basic approaches: One involves the use of dichotic listening techniques and infers hemispheric specialization on the basis of comparing performance between the left and right ears. A second approach is to construct musical tasks which are similar to those in classical experimental psychology and where brain-behavioral correlates have been demonstrated in animal models. Thus by delineating similarities and differences in processing between musical and non-musical tasks, models or theories of brain function can be attempted.


Brain Mechanism Ambiguous Sentence Behavioral Habituation Phrase Structure Grammar Musical Symbol 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bagshaw, M.H., and Benzies, S., 1968, Multiple measures of the orienting reaction and their dissociation after amygdalectomy in monkeys, Exp. Neurol. 29:175–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bagshaw, M.H., Kimble, D.P., and Pribram, K.H., 1965, The GSR of monkeys during orienting and habituation and after ablation of the amygdala, hippocampus and inferotemporal cortex. Neuropsychologia, 3:111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barlow, H.B., 1961, Possible principles underlying the transformations of sensory messages, in: “Sensory Communication,” W. Rosenblith, ed., MIT Press, Cambridge, Ma.Google Scholar
  4. Bernstein, L., 1976, “The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard,” Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Ma.Google Scholar
  5. Bogen, J.E., and Gordon, H.W., 1971, Musical tests for functional lateralization with intracarotid amobarbital. Nature, 230:524.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chomsky, N., 1972, “Language and Mind,” Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich, New York.Google Scholar
  7. Chomsky, N., 1980, “Rules and Representations,” Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  8. Clynes, M., 1977, “Sentics: The Touch of Emotions,” Doubleday, Garden City, N.J.Google Scholar
  9. Critchley, M., and Henson, R.A., 1977, “Music and the Brain,” eds. W. Heinemann Medical Books, Ltd., London.Google Scholar
  10. Deutsch, D., 1977, Memory and attention in music, in: “Music and the Brain,” M. Critchley, and R.A. Henson, eds., W. Heinemann Medical Books, Ltd., London.Google Scholar
  11. Douglas, R.J., and Pribram, K.H., 1966, Learning and limbic lesions, Neuropsychologia, 97–220.Google Scholar
  12. Efron, R., and Yund, E.W., 1975, Dichotic competition of simultaneous tone bursts of different frequency. III: The effect of stimulus parameters on suppression and ear dominance functions, Neuropsychologia, 13:151–161.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fillmore, C.J., 1968, The case for case, in: “Universals of Liguistic Theory,” Holt, Rinehart &Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Garner, W.R., 1962, “Uncertainty and Structure as Psychological Concepts,” John Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Gordon, H.W, 1970, Hemispheric asymmetries in the perception of musical chords. Cortex, 6:387–398.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haydon, S.P., and Spellacy, F.J., 1973, Monaural reaction time asymmetries for speech and non speech sounds, Cortex, 9:288–294.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Howes, D.H., 1957(a), On the relation between the intelligibility and frequency of occurrence of English words, J. Account. Soc. Am., 29:296–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Howes, D.H., 1957(b), On the relation between the probability of a word as an association and in general linguistic usage, J. Abnornn. Soc. Psychol., 54:73–85Google Scholar
  19. Howes, D.H., 1964, Application of the word-frequency concept to aphasia, in: “Ciba Foundation Symposium on Disorders of Language,” Churchill, London.Google Scholar
  20. Jackendoff, R., and Lerdahl, F., 1979, Generative music theory and its relation to psychology, (unpublished manuscript).Google Scholar
  21. Jakobson, R., 1956, Two aspects of language and two types of aphasic disturbances, in: “Fundamentals of Language,” R. Jakobson, and M. Halle, eds., Mouton, The Hague.Google Scholar
  22. Kallman, H.J., and Corballis, M.C., 1975, Ear asymmetry in reaction time to musical sounds, Perc. Psychophys., 17: 368–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kimble, D.P., Bagshaw, M.H., and Pribram, K.H., 1965, The GSR of monkeys during orienting and habituation after selective partial ablations of the cingulate and frontal cortex, Neuropsychologia, 3:121–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lerdahl, F., and Jackendoff, R., 1977, Toward a formal theory of tonal music, J. Mus. Theory, 21(1):111–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Luria, A.R., Primbram, K.H., and Homskaya, E.D., 1964, An experimental analysis of the behavioral disturbance produced by a left frontal arachnoidal endothelioma (memingioma), Neuropsychologia, 2:257–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McGuinness, D., 1974, Equating individual differences for auditory input, Psychophysiol., 11:113–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Miller, G.A., Galanter, E., and Pribram, K.H., 1960, “Plans and the Structure of Behavior,” Henry Holt & Co., New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Milner, B., 1954, Intellectual function of the temporal lobe, Psychol. Bull., 51:42–62.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Morris, C., 1946, “Signs, Language and Behavior,” Prentice Hall, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Oscar-Berman, M., Blumstein, S., and DeLuca, D., 1974, Iconic recognition of musical symbols in lateral visual field. Paper presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, La.Google Scholar
  31. Peirce, C.S., 1934, “Collected Papers,” Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Ma.Google Scholar
  32. Pribram, K.H., 1954, Toward a science of neuropsychology (method and data), in: “Current Trends in Psychology and the Behavioral Sciences,” R.A. Patton, ed., Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh.Google Scholar
  33. Pribram, K.H., 1958(a), Comparative neurology and the evolution of behavior, in: “Behaviour and Evolution,” A. Roe, and G.G. Simpson, eds., Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.Google Scholar
  34. Pribram K.H., 1958(b), Neocortical function in behavior, in: “Biological and Biochemical Bases of Behavior,” H.F. Harlow and C.N. Woolsey, eds., University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wis.Google Scholar
  35. Pribram, K.H., 1959, On the neurology of thinking, Behav. Sci., 4:265–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pribram, K.H., 1960, The intrinsic systems of the forebrain, in: “Handbook of Physiology, Neurophysiology, II,” J. Field, H.W. Magoun, and V.E. Hall, eds., American Physiological Society, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  37. Pribram, K.H., 1969, Neural servosystems and the structure of personality, J. Nerv. Men. Pis., 140:30–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pribram, K H., 1971, “Languages of the Brain,” Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs. N.J., (2nd ed., 1977, Brooks/Cole, Monterey, (Ca.)Google Scholar
  39. Pribram, K.H., 1973(a), The comparative psychology of communication: The Issue of grammar and meaning. Annals New York Acad. Sci. 223:133–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pribram, K.H., 1973(b), The primate frontal cortex-executive of the brain, in: “Frontal Lobes and the Regulation of Behavior,” A.R. Luria, and K.H. Pribram, eds., Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  41. Pribram, K.H., 1974, How is it that sensing so much, we can do so little?, in: “The Neurosciences Third Study Volume,” G. Schmitt, and F. Worden, eds., MIT Press, Cambridge, Ma.Google Scholar
  42. Pribram, K.H., 1973, Neurolinguistics: The study of brain organization in grammar and meaning, Totus Homo, 6:20–30.Google Scholar
  43. Pribram, K.H., 1976, Language in a sociobiological frame, in “Origins and Evolution of Language and Speech,” Academy of Science, New York.Google Scholar
  44. Pribram, K.H., 1977, Modes of central processing in human learning and remembering, in: “Brain and Learning,” T.J. Teyler, ed., Greylock Press, Stamford, Conn.Google Scholar
  45. Pribram, K.H., 1978, The linguistic act, in: “Psychiatry and the Humanities, Vol. 3: Psychoanalysis and Language,” J.H. Smith, ed., Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.Google Scholar
  46. Pribram, K.H., 1979(a), The place of pragmatics in the syntactic and semantic organization of language, in “Temporal Variables in Speech, Studies in Honour of Freida Goldman/Eisler,” Mouton, Paris.Google Scholar
  47. Pribram, K.H., 1979(b), Emotions, in: “Handbook of Clinical Neuropsychology,” S.B. Filskoy, and T.J. Boll, eds., Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  48. Pribram, K.H., Lim, H., Poppen, R., and Bagshaw, M.H., 1966, Limbic lesions and the temporal structure of redundancy, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 61:363–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pribram, K-H., and McGuinness, D. 1973, Arousal, activation and effort in the control of attention. Psych. Rev. 82(2):116–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pribram, K.H., Plotkin, H.C., Anderson, R.M., and Leong, D., 1977, Information sources in the delayed alternation task for normal and ‘frontal’ monkeys, Neuropsychologia, 13:329–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pribram, K.H., and Tubbs, W.E., 1967, Short-term memory, parsing, and the primate frontal cortex. Science, 136:1763–1767.Google Scholar
  52. Quillian, M.R., 1967, Word concepts: A theory simulation of some basic semantic capabilities, Behav. Sci., 12:410–430.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Reynolds, P.C., 1970, Social communication in the chimpanzee: A review. The Chimpanzee, 3:369–394.Google Scholar
  54. Robinson, G., and Solomon, D.J., 1974, Rhythm is processed by the speech hemisphere, J. Exp. Psychol., 102:308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Schank, R.C., and Abelson, R.P., 1977, “Scripts, Plans, Goals and Understanding,” Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J.Google Scholar
  56. Schwartzbaum, J.S., and Pribram, K.H., 1960, The effects of amygdalectomy in monkeys on transposition along a brightness continuum. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 33:396–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Schwartzbaum, J.S., Wilson, W.A., Jr., and Morrissette, J.R., 1961, The effects of amygdalectomy on locomotor activity in monkeys, J. Comp. Physiol Psychol., 34(3):334–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Searle, J.R., 1979, “Expression and Meaning,” Cannbridge University Press, Cambridge, Eng.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Winograd, T., 1977 Framework for understanding discourse, Stanford Univ. Intelligence Monograph, Stanford, (Ca.)Google Scholar
  60. Zajonc, R.B., 1968, Attitudinal effects of mere exposure, J. Personal. Soc. Psychol., 9(2):2.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl H. Pribram
    • 1
  1. 1.Neuropsychology LaboratoriesStanford University StanfordStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations