ABSTRACT Objective: Most of the western music consists of a melody and an accompaniment. The melody is referred to as the foreground, with the accompaniment the background. In visual processing, the lateral occipital complex (LOC) is known to participate in foreground and background segregation. We investigated the role of LOC in music processing with use of positron emission tomography (PET). Method: Musically naïve subjects listened to unfamiliar novel melodies with (accompaniment condition) and without the accompaniment (melodic condition). Using a PET subtraction technique, we studied changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) during the accompaniment condition compared to the melodic condition. Results: The accompanyment condition was associated with bilateral increase of rCBF at the lateral and medial surfaces of both occipital lobes, medial parts of fusiform gyri, cingulate gyri, precentral gyri, insular cortices, and cerebellum. During the melodic condition, the activation at the anterior and posterior portions of the temporal lobes, medial surface of the frontal lobes, inferior frontal gyri, orbitofrontal cortices, inferior parietal lobules, and cerebellum was observed. Conclusions: The LOC participates in recognition of melody with accompaniment, a phenomenon that can be regarded as foreground and background segregation in auditory processing. The fusiform cortex which was known to participate in the color recognition might be activated by the recognition of flourish sounds by the accompaniment, compared to melodic condition. It is supposed that the LOC and fusiform cortex play similar functions beyond the difference of sensory modalities.
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