Event-related potential (ERP) markers of melodic processing: The N2 component is modulated by structural complexity, not by melodic 'meaningfulness'

L. Minati, L. Salvatoni, C. Rosazza, E. Pietrocini, E. Visani, F. Panzica, V. Scaioli, G. Avanzini, S. Franceschetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Previous studies have demonstrated that the event-related potential (ERP) evoked by a note shows substantial differences depending on whether the note is part of a melodic context or presented in an unstructured repetition. In particular, the N2 component has been found to have considerably increased latency and a more frontal topography for notes presented in a melody. An open question is whether such effect is related to the 'meaningfulness' of a note sequence, that is due to the formation of abstract melodic entities, rather than more simply an indicator of cognitive load associated with processing a structurally-complex sequence as opposed to an unstructured repetition. In this study, we addressed this issue by recording ERPs from 10 healthy non-musicians listening to eight one-part unfamiliar tonal melodies and eight sequences of random notes. The two stimuli were matched for distribution of pitch, intervals and note duration as well as for entropy of the time-series of pitch and duration. While tonal melodies were rated more meaningful (p

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010



  • Event-related potentials (ERP)
  • Melodic processing
  • Musical syntax
  • N2 component

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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