Neural Correlates of Recognition and Naming of Musical Instruments


Objective: Retrieval of lexical (names) and conceptual (semantic) information is frequently impaired in individuals with neurological damage. One category of items that is often affected is musical instruments.However, distinct neuroanatomical correlates underlying lexical and conceptual knowledge for musical instruments have not been identified.

Method: We used a neuropsychological approach to explore the neural correlates of knowledge retrieval for musical instruments. A large sample of individuals with focal brain damage (N ± 298), viewed pictures of 16 musical instruments and were asked to name and identify each instrument. Neuroanatomical data were analyzed with a proportional MAP-3 method to create voxelwise lesion proportion difference maps.

Results: Impaired naming (lexical retrieval) of musical instruments was associated with damage to the left temporal pole and inferior pre- and postcentral gyri. Impaired recognition (conceptual knowledge retrieval) of musical instruments was associated with a more broadly and bilaterally distributed network of regions, including ventromedial prefrontal cortices,occipital cortices, and superior temporal gyrus.

Conclusions: The findings extend our understanding of how musical instruments are processed at neural system level, and elucidate factors that may explain why brain damage may or may not produce anomia or agnosia for musical instruments. Our findings also helpinform broader understanding of category-related knowledge mapping in the brain, as musical instruments possess several characteristics that are similar to various other categories of items: They are inanimate and highly manipulable (similar to tools), produce characteristic sounds (similar to animals),and require fine-grained visual differentiation between each other (similar to people).


Psychological Science

Keywords and Phrases

Brain Lesions; Musical Instruments; Naming; Recognition

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2016 American Psychological Association (APA), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Oct 2016

PubMed ID