Naming That Tune

Previous research has shown that damage to the left temporal pole (LTP) is associated with impaired retrieval of words for unique entities, including names of famous people and landmarks. However, it is not known whether retrieving names for famous melodies is associated with the LTP. The aim of a study recently published in Neuropsychology was to investigate the hypothesis that damage to the LTP would be associated with impaired naming of famous musical melodies. A Melody Naming Test was administered to patients with LTP damage, brain damaged comparison (BDC) patients, and normal comparison participants (NC). The test included various well-known melodies (e.g., “Pop Goes the Weasel”). After hearing each melody, participants were asked to rate their familiarity with the melody and identify it by name. Results showed that LTP patients named significantly fewer melodies than BDC and NC participants. Recognition of melodies did not differ significantly between groups. The findings suggest that LTP supports retrieval of names for famous melodies. More broadly, these results extend support for the theoretical notion that LTP is important for retrieving proper names for unique concepts, irrespectively of stimulus modality or category.

For the abstract


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