Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) was used to study the cerebral underpinning of resonance behavior 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-voice audition and bimanual motor imagery circumvented a hemisphere bias associated with a main melody.
Both tasks activated ventral premotor and auditory cortices, bilaterally, and the anterior parietal cortex right-dominantly, compared 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, suggesting that musicians not only recruited their manual motor repertoire but also
performed a spatial transformation from the vertical perceived pitch axis to the horizontal keyboard. Imagery-specific activations in controls comprised 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.