In western music, harmonic expectations can be fulfilled or broken by unexpected chords. In the present study, we explored the factors interacting with the processing of dissonant violations of musical context. Previous research has described the neural responses of unexpected dissonance but it remains unclear to what extent they can be modulated. We examined whether the perception of unexpected dissonance interacts with the amount of expectation built and musical training. Also, we investigated whether listeners differently adapt to frequent dissonance as a function of music expertise. First, we compared the event-related potentials of musicians and non-musicians listening to dissonant chords at intermediate or ending positions of chord cadences. Second, we analysed the ERPs of musicians and non-musicians to a high proportion (50%) of cadences ending in a dissonant chord. We found that clusters elicit a larger early negativity and P3a in musicians and a larger N5 in non-musicians, and that each component differently varied with the amount of expectation. Expert listeners may process dissonance as a musically-unacceptable oddball due to their enhanced sensitivity, while naïve listeners react to it as any other syntactic violation. Frequently-occurring dissonance elicited similar ERP effects. Thus, western listeners may not be able to adapt to recurrent dissonant endings, even if they can anticipate them. Our study suggests that dissonance is hard to assimilate as a closure of musical context (even if it occurs frequently) for all listeners, but musicianship influences the neural mechanisms that are recruited for its processing. -- Carlota Pagès PhD Student <https://www.upf.edu/web/lcc/entry/-/-/139611/adscripcion/carlota-pag%C3%A8s> Language & Comparative Cognition Group <https://www.upf.edu/web/lcc> l Center for Brain and Cognition <http://cbc.upf.edu/> l UPF *Office 24.326* *Mercè Rodoreda Building* *c\ Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27 <https://maps.google.com/?q=c%5C+Ramon+Trias+Fargas,+25-27+08005+Barcelona&entry=gmail&source=g>08005 Barcelona <https://maps.google.com/?q=c%5C+Ramon+Trias+Fargas,+25-27+08005+Barcelona&entry=gmail&source=g>*
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