Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Neuropsychology of music and math disabilities: Guest blog post by Dr. Brad Hale

Dr. Brad Hale provided the following research information in a recent post on the PEDS listserv. With Brad's permission, I'm reproducing the information "as is." Thanks Brad.

There's lots of data now to support different types of math disability; we found 5 subtypes consistent with the NP and educational literature (visual-spatial, math reasoning, executive/computation, math facts/knowledge, Gerstmann Syndrome subtypes), we suggest are related to right posterior, right frontal, frontal-subcortical, left temporal/parietal, and left parietal dysfunction respectively. There were also two subtypes with math disability also showing the visual-spatial and math reasoning pattern in our SLD-psychopathology study. But clearly there are multiple neuropsychological processes involved in math and math disability, just like reading and reading disability. See the following articles/chapters (and our School Neuropsychology book):

Hale, J. B., Wycoff, K. L., & Fiorello, C. A. (2010). RTI and cognitive hypothesis testing for specific learning disabilities identification and intervention: The best of both worlds. In D. P. Flanagan & V. C. Alfonso (Eds.), Essentials of Specific Learning Disability Identification. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Hain, L. A., & Hale, J. B. (2010). “Nonverbal” learning disabilities or Asperger Syndrome? Clarification through cognitive hypothesis testing. In N. Mather & L. E. Jaffe (Eds.), Expert Psychological Report Writing. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Hale, J. B. (2010). Cognitive hypothesis testing for a child with math disability. In C. A. Riccio, J. R. Sullivan, & M. J. Cohen (Eds.), Neuropsychological assessment and intervention for childhood and adolescent disorders (pp. 54-62). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Hain, L. A., Hale, J. B., & Glass-Kendorski, J. (2009). Comorbidity of psychopathology in cognitive and academic SLD subtypes. In S. G. Pfeifer & G. Rattan (Eds.), Emotional disorders: A neuropsychological, psychopharmacological, and educational perspective (pp. 199-226). Middletown, MD: School Neuropsychology Press.

Hale, J. B., Fiorello, C. A., Dumont, R., Willis, J. O., Rackley, C., & Elliott, C. (2008). Differential Ability Scales–Second Edition (neuro)psychological Predictors of Math Performance for Typical Children and Children with Math Disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 45, 838-858.

Hale, J. B., Fiorello, C. A., Miller, J. A., Wenrich, K., Teodori, A. M., & Henzel, J. (2008). WISC-IV assessment and intervention strategies for children with specific learning disabilities. In A. Prifitera, D. H. Saklofske, & L. G. Weiss (Eds.), WISC-IV clinical assessment and intervention (2nd ed.) (pp. 109-171). New York, NY: Elsevier Science.

Hale, J. B., Fiorello, C. A., Kavanagh, J. A., Holdnack, J. A., & Aloe, A. M. (2007). Is the demise of IQ interpretation justified? A response to special issue authors. Applied Neuropsychology, 14, 37-51.

Hale, J. B., & Fiorello, C. A. (2004). School neuropsychology: A practitioner’s handbook. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Hale, J. B., Fiorello, C. A., Bertin, M., & Sherman, R. (2003). Predicting math competency through neuropsychological interpretation of WISC-III variance components. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 21, 358-380.

As for music, the old assumption that the right hemisphere is specialized for music doesn't seem to fit well with the data. With the right superior temporal lobe more sensitive to spectral information, and the left sensitive to temporal information, different aspects of music are processed in the right and left hemispheres. There are differences in which hemisphere processes drums, violin, and saxophone if I remember correctly... This also fits well with our knowledge of a right preference for prosody and a left preference for phonological processing. However, subcortical structures have also been implicated, so as Drs. Koziol and Budding like to remind us, we shouldn't go "corticocentric" in our explanation of musical processing and skill. Then there is the literature that fits with the left-automatized/right-novel aspect of music, where novices use more right hemisphere functions to listen/play music, whereas expert musicians use more the left. Finally, there is the emotional valence associated with music, and whether we like it or not! See below:

Auditory perception of temporal and spectral events in patients with focal left and right cerebral lesions*1

Donald A. Robin, Daniel Tranel and Hanna Damasio
Available online 30 August 2004.
The auditory perception of temporal and spectral information was studied in subjects with lesions in the temporoparietal region of the left (LH group), or right (RH group) hemisphere (n = 5 in each group) and in five normal controls. The temporal tasks included gap detection and two complex pattern perception tasks in which subjects had to identify the placement of the two closest tones (separated by the shortest interval) within a sequence of six tones. The spectral tasks involved pitch matching and frequency discrimination. The results showed a “double dissociation”: (1) the LH group was impaired in their ability to perceive temporal information, but the perception of spectral information was normal, and (2) the RH group was impaired in their ability to perceive spectral information, but the perception of temporal information was normal. The findings are consistent with the notion that temporal processing is a function of left-hemisphere structures and that spectral processing is a function of right-hemisphere structures.

Brain Organization for Music Processing
Annual Review of Psychology
Vol. 56: 89-114 (Volume publication date February 2005)
First published online as a Review in Advance on June 21, 2004
Isabelle Peretz and Robert J. Zatorre
Research on how the brain processes music is emerging as a rich and stimulating area of investigation of perception, memory, emotion, and performance. Results emanating from both lesion studies and neuroimaging techniques are reviewed and integrated for each of these musical functions. We focus our attention on the common core of musical abilities shared by musicians and nonmusicians alike. Hence, the effect of musical training on brain plasticity is examined in a separate section, after a review of the available data regarding music playing and reading skills that are typically cultivated by musicians. Finally, we address a currently debated issue regarding the putative existence of music-specific neural networks. Unfortunately, due to scarcity of research on the macrostructure of music organization and on cultural differences, the musical material under focus is at the level of the musical phrase, as typically used in Western popular music.
How Many Music Centers Are in the Brain?

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Volume 930, THE BIOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF MUSIC pages 273–280, June 2001
Abstract: When reviewing the literature on brain substrates of music processing, a puzzling variety of findings can be stated. The traditional view of a left-right dichotomy of brain organization—assuming that in contrast to language, music is primarily processed in the right hemisphere—was challenged 20 years ago, when the influence of music education on brain lateralization was demonstrated. Modern concepts emphasize the modular organization of music cognition. According to this viewpoint, different aspects of music are processed in different, although partly overlapping neuronal networks of both hemispheres. However, even when isolating a single “module,” such as, for example, the perception of contours, the interindividual variance of brain substrates is enormous. To clarify the factors contributing to this variability, we conducted a longitudinal experiment comparing the effects of procedural versus explicit music teaching on brain networks. We demonstrated that cortical activation during music processing reflects the auditory “learning biography,” the personal experiences accumulated over time. Listening to music, learning to play an instrument, formal instruction, and professional training result in multiple, in many instances multisensory, representations of music, which seem to be partly interchangeable and rapidly adaptive. In summary, as soon as we consider “real music” apart from laboratory experiments, we have to expect individually formed and quickly adaptive brain substrates, including widely distributed neuronal networks in both hemispheres

Functional Anatomy of Musical Perception in Musicians

Takashi Ohnishi,
Hiroshi Matsuda,
Takashi Asada,
Makoto Aruga1,
Makiko Hirakata1,
Masami Nishikawa,
Asako Katoh and
Etsuko Imabayashi

The present study used functional magnetic resonance to examine the cerebral activity pattern associated with musical perception in musicians and non-musicians. Musicians showed left dominant secondary auditory areas in the temporal cortex and the left posterior dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during a passive music listening task, whereas non-musicians demonstrated right dominant secondary auditory areas during the same task. A significant difference in the degree of activation between musicians and non-musicians was noted in the bilateral planum temporale and the left posterior dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The degree of activation of the left planum temporale correlated well with the age at which the person had begun musical training. Furthermore, the degree of activation in the left posterior dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the left planum temporale correlated significantly with absolute pitch ability. The results indicated distinct neural activity in the auditory association areas and the prefrontal cortex of trained musicians. We suggest that such activity is associated with absolute pitch ability and the use-dependent functional reorganization produced by the early commencement of long-term training.

Hits to the left, flops to the right: different emotions during listening to music are reflected in cortical lateralisation patterns
Eckart Altenmüller, , Kristian Schürmann, Vanessa K. Lim and Dietrich Parlitz
In order to investigate the neurobiological mechanisms accompanying emotional valence judgements during listening to complex auditory stimuli, cortical direct current (dc)-electroencephalography (EEG) activation patterns were recorded from 16 right-handed students. Students listened to 160 short sequences taken from the repertoires of jazz, rock-pop, classical music and environmental sounds (each n=40). Emotional valence of the perceived stimuli were rated on a 5-step scale after each sequence. Brain activation patterns during listening revealed widespread bilateral fronto-temporal activation, but a highly significant lateralisation effect: positive emotional attributions were accompanied by an increase in left temporal activation, negative by a more bilateral pattern with preponderance of the right fronto-temporal cortex. Female participants demonstrated greater valence-related differences than males. No differences related to the four stimulus categories could be detected, suggesting that the actual auditory brain activation patterns were more determined by their affective emotional valence than by differences in acoustical “fine” structure. The results are consistent with a model of hemispheric specialisation concerning perceived positive or negative emotions proposed by Heilman [Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 9 (1997) 439].

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