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Re: Neural mechanisms of octave equivalence

Hi, Ani: A paper that you might find of interest is Moerel, M., De Martino, F., Santoro, R., Yacoub, E., & Formisano, E. (2015). Representation of pitch chroma by multi-peak spectral tuning in human auditory cortex. NeuroImage, 106(0), 161-169.

On 24/09/2016 08:59, Alain de Cheveigne wrote:
Hi Ani, 

Octave “equivalence” is an emergent property of both pattern-matching and autocorrelation models of pitch. All harmonics of the tone at the octave belong to the harmonic series of the lower tone.  Likewise autocorrelation peaks of the lower tone coincide with peaks of the tone at the octave.  Some neural instantiations of these models are Shihab Shamma’s harmonic template model, or Cariani’s work on autocorrelation (based on Licklider’s ideas), and there are many others.  Whether or not any specific model is supported by anatomical or electrophysiological data is less clear.

Actually “equivalence” is a misnomer. The relation is not commutative: the harmonics of the lower tone do not all belong to the harmonic series of the octave.  Likewise peaks of the autocorrelation of the octave tone are not all peaks of the lower tone.  Thus these models would predict an asymmetry in the perceptual similarity between octaves (i.e. an octave tone “resembles” the lower tone but not vice-versa).  I don’t know of any relevant behavioral data or music-theoretical results on this.


de Cheveigné, A. (2005) Pitch perception models. In: Pitch - Neural coding and perception (Plack C, Oxenham A, eds). New York: Springer, 169-233. (http://audition.ens.fr/adc/pdf/2005_pitch_SHAR.pdf)
Shamma S, and Klein D (2000) The case of the missing pitch templates: how harmonic templates emerge in the early auditory system. J Acoust Soc Am 107:2631-2644.
Cariani PA, and Delgutte B (1996b) Neural correlates of the pitch of complex tones. II. Pitch shift, pitch ambiguity, phase-invariance, pitch circularity, rate-pitch and the dominance region for pitch. J Neurophysiol 76:1717-1734.
Licklider JCR (1951) A duplex theory of pitch perception (reproduced in Schubert 1979, 155-160). Experientia 7:128-134.

On 23 Sep 2016, at 13:06, Patel, Aniruddh D. <a.patel@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Dear List,
Is anyone aware on theoretical or empirical papers on the neural mechanisms of octave equivalence in auditory perception?
Interestingly, recent works suggests that songbirds may not perceive octave equivalence:
Hoeschele, M., Weisman, R. G., Guillette, L. M., Hahn, A. H., & Sturdy, C. B. (2013). Chickadees fail standardized operant tests for octave equivalence. Animal cognition, 16(4), 599-609.
Ani Patel
Aniruddh D. Patel
Dept. of Psychology
Tufts University
490 Boston Ave.
Medford, MA 02155
Senior Fellow
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)
Azrieli Program in Brain, Mind, & Consciousness

Ian Cross
Director, Centre for Music & Science
Faculty of Music
University of Cambridge
Cambridge CB3 9DP