Cerebral activations related to audition-driven performance imagery in professional musicians

Robert Harris, Bauke M. de Jong

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    Abstract

    Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) was used to study the activation of cerebral motor networks during auditory perception of music in professional keyboard musicians (n=12). The activation paradigm implied that subjects listened to two-part polyphonic music, while either critically appraising the performance or imagining they were performing themselves. Two-part polyphonic audition and bimanual motor imagery circumvented a hemisphere bias associated with the convention of playing the melody with the right hand. Both tasks activated ventral premotor and auditory cortices, bilaterally, and the right anterior parietal cortex, when contrasted to 12 musically unskilled controls. Although left ventral premotor activation was increased during imagery (compared to judgment), bilateral dorsal premotor and right posterior-superior parietal activations were quite unique to motor imagery. The latter suggests that musicians not only recruited their manual motor repertoire but also performed a spatial transformation from the vertically perceived pitch axis (high and low sound) to the horizontal axis of the keyboard. Imagery-specific activations in controls were seen in left dorsal parietal-premotor and supplementary motor cortices. Although these activations were less strong compared to musicians, this overlapping distribution indicated the recruitment of a general 'mirror-neuron' circuitry. These two levels of sensori-motor transformations point towards common principles by which the brain organizes audition-driven music performance and visually guided task performance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages10
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Volume9
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Keywords

    • motor imagenery
    • music performance
    • mental rotation

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