Albert Bregman’s (1990) book Auditory Scene Analysis: The Perceptual Organization of Sound has had a tremendous impact on research in auditory neuroscience. Here, we outline some of the accomplishments. This review is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather aims to highlight milestones in the brief history of auditory neuroscience. The steady increase in neuroscience research following the book’s pivotal publication has advanced knowledge about how the brain forms representations of auditory objects. This research has far-reaching societal implications on health and quality of life. For instance, it helped us understand why some people experience difficulties understanding speech in noise, which in turn has led to development of therapeutic interventions. Importantly, the book acts as a catalyst, providing scientists with a common conceptual framework for research in such diverse fields as speech perception, music perception, neurophysiology and computational neuroscience. This interdisciplinary approach to research in audition is one of this book’s legacies.
Absolute pitch (AP) is the rare ability to identify or produce a specific pitch without a reference pitch, which appears to be more prevalent in tone-language speakers than non-tone-language speakers. Numerous studies support a close relationship between AP, music, and language. Despite this relationship, the extent to which these factors contribute to the processing and encoding of pitch has not yet been investigated. Addressing this research question would provide insights into the relationship between music and language, as well as the mechanisms of AP. To this aim, we recruited AP musicians and non-AP musicians who were either tone-language (Mandarin and Cantonese) or non-tone language speakers. Participants completed a zero- and one-back working memory task using music and non-music (control) stimuli. In general, AP participants had better accuracy and faster reaction times than participants without AP. This effect remained even after controlling for the age at which participants began formal music lessons. We did not observe a performance advantage afforded by speaking a tone language, nor a cumulative advantage afforded by having AP and being a tone-language speaker.