Effects of asymmetric cultural experiences on the auditory pathway: Evidence from music

Patrick C.M. Wong, Tyler K. Perrachione, Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Scopus citations


Cultural experiences come in many different forms, such as immersion in a particular linguistic community, exposure to faces of people with different racial backgrounds, or repeated encounters with music of a particular tradition. In most circumstances, these cultural experiences are asymmetric, meaning one type of experience occurs more frequently than other types (e.g., a person raised in India will likely encounter the Indian todi scale more so than a Westerner). In this paper, we will discuss recent findings from our laboratories that reveal the impact of short- and long-term asymmetric musical experiences on how the nervous system responds to complex sounds. We will discuss experiments examining how musical experience may facilitate the learning of a tone language, how musicians develop neural circuitries that are sensitive to musical melodies played on their instrument of expertise, and how even everyday listeners who have little formal training are particularly sensitive to music of their own culture(s). An understanding of these cultural asymmetries is useful in formulating a more comprehensive model of auditory perceptual expertise that considers how experiences shape auditory skill levels. Such a model has the potential to aid in the development of rehabilitation programs for the efficacious treatment of neurologic impairments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Symposium on Olfaction and Taste
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9781573317399
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Print)0077-8923
ISSN (Electronic)1749-6632

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • History and Philosophy of Science


  • Bimusicality
  • FMRI
  • Language
  • Music cognition
  • Neural correlates


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