EEG evidence for directional asymmetry in Chinese nonmusicians' musical pitch perception

Weiyi Ma, Yongxiu Lai, Xiaojing Zheng, Hua Yang, Jiehui Hu, Dezhong Yao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


The same amount of musical pitch change in different directions may be perceived as different degrees of change, such that the clockwise modulation has a shorter psychological distance from the original music than the counterclockwise modulation does. However, the finding of directional asymmetry is largely based on behavioral studies. It is unclear whether it has its electrophysiological basis. The current study examines the electrophysiological basis of directional asymmetry. Using EEG, this study examines human brain activities when listening to musical stimuli with systematically different pitch levels. The results demonstrate electrophysiological evidence for directional asymmetry by showing that the counterclockwise transposition elicited larger brain activities than the clockwise transposition. Furthermore, by testing adult nonmusicians speaking a tonal language, namely Chinese, the current study supports the universality of the finding of right hemisphere dominance of musical pitch perception, despite the previous finding that Chinese lexical tones are primarily processed in the left hemisphere.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Psycholinguistic Representation of Tone Conference 2011
Place of PublicationHong Kong
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9627578118
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventPsycholinguistic Representation of Tone Conference - Hong Kong
Duration: 22 Aug 201123 Aug 2011


ConferencePsycholinguistic Representation of Tone Conference
CityHong Kong


  • Tonal transposition
  • directional asymmetry
  • right hemisphere dominance

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