The role of cerebral resonance behavior in the control of music performance

  • Robert Harris (Speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


    In this fMRI study, it was hypothesized that mirror neurons in the premotor-parietal network would be activated while improvising performers listened to music. Such activations would suggest that perception is engaging the action repertoire of the improvising musician. Recognition and understanding of music and musical intentions would therefore be directly mediated by the premotor-parietal network dedicated to the planning and execution of movement. Ten improvising musicians and ten musically-unskilled controls listened to two-part harmony while performing one of two tasks: imagining playing the music or assessing the performance. Activations in non-musicians were completely left-lateralized and were restricted to dorsal premotor cortex and SMA. While both ventral and dorsal premotor activations in improvising musicians were bilateral, parietal activations were right-lateralized. While activations during the imagery task were more extensive than during the assessment task, the activations were similar, with the exception of right posterior parietal cortex which was only activated during the imagery task. Right laterization of the parietal cortex suggests that musicians are performing a mental rotation ask, transforming vertical pitch space into horizontal keyboard space. Results suggest that when musicians listen to music they engage their instrument-related action repertoire, a finding that could have important consequences for the teaching of ear training in conservatory curricula.
    Period9 May 2012
    Degree of RecognitionLocal


    • music performance
    • improvisation
    • ear training
    • neurosciences
    • cognition