Thursday, June 04, 2009

Individual differences in rhtyhm perception and beat production

I received an advanced copy of a interesting manuscript accepted for publication by J. Grahn and D. McAuley, two researchers studying mental timing, and rhythm perception and beat production in particular.  The title of their "in press" article is Neural bases of individual differences in beat perception.  Since the manuscript has not gone through the final editing stage, I currently cannot make it available for viewing.  At this time I'm just providing a "sneak peak" via a copy of the abstract on the accepted version of the manuscript.  Dr. Grahn is listed under the Mental Timing Scholars blogroll at this blog.  Copies of other related publications by these researchers can be found at their professional web pages.  I'll be keeping an eye open for the formal publication

When people listen to music, they often move their body in time with the beat. However, people differ widely in their tendency to ‘feel a beat’. Why? Here we combined functional magnetic resonance imaging with a timing task that is diagnostic of individual differences in beat perception and compared the brain activity of individuals who readily perceive an implied beat with those who do not. Activation in auditory and motor areas was correlated with individual differences in beat perception, even when participants performed a timing task in which no behavioral differences occurred. The results support two conclusions. First, beat perception is mediated by the activation of cortical circuits involved in rhythm production. Second, some individuals more readily engage these
cortical beat-based circuits when making timing judgments than do others.

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