The role of cerebral resonance behavior in the control of music performance: an fMRI study

Robert Harris, Bauke de Jong

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingContribution to conference proceedingAcademicpeer-review


    Mirror neurons in the cerebral cortex have been shown to fire not only
    during performance but also during visual and auditory observation of
    activity. This phenomenon is commonly called cerebral resonance behavior.
    This would mean that cortical motor regions would not only be
    activated while singing, but also while listening to music. The same
    should hold true for playing a music instrument. Although most individuals
    are able to sing along when they hear a melody, even highly
    skilled instrumentalists, however, are frequently unable to play by ear.
    They are score-dependent—i.e. they are only able to play a piece of music
    when they have access to the notes—while musicians who are able to play
    by ear and improvise are non score-dependent; they are able to play
    without notes. Our hypothesis is that score-dependent instrumentalists
    will exhibit less cerebral resonance behavior than non score-dependent
    musicians while listening to music. Using fMRI to measure BOLD response,
    subjects listen to two-part harmony presented with headphones.
    The following experimental conditions are distinguished: (1) well-known
    vs. unknown music (2) motor imagery vs. attentive listening. A voxelbased
    analysis of differences between the condition-related cerebral activations
    is performed using Statistical Parametric Mapping.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of ISPS 2011
    EditorsAaron Williamon, Darryl Edwards, Lee Bartel
    Place of PublicationUtrecht
    PublisherAssociation Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen (AEC)
    ISBN (Print)978-94-90306-02-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    Event3rd International Symposium on Performance Science (ISPS) 2011: Models of Performance - Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    Duration: 24 Aug 201127 Aug 2011
    Conference number: 3rd


    Conference3rd International Symposium on Performance Science (ISPS) 2011
    Abbreviated titleISPS 2011
    Internet address


    • non score-dependency
    • cerebral resonance behavior
    • motor control
    • music performance
    • brain imaging


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