Nobody Is Perfect: ERP Effects Prior to Performance Errors in Musicians Indicate Fast Monitoring Processes

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 02/2009; 4(4):e5032. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005032
Source: PubMed


One central question in the context of motor control and action monitoring is at what point in time errors can be detected. Previous electrophysiological studies investigating this issue focused on brain potentials elicited after erroneous responses, mainly in simple speeded response tasks. In the present study, we investigated brain potentials before the commission of errors in a natural and complex situation.
Expert pianists bimanually played scales and patterns while the electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were computed for correct and incorrect performances. Results revealed differences already 100 ms prior to the onset of a note (i.e., prior to auditory feedback). We further observed that erroneous keystrokes were delayed in time and pressed more slowly.
Our data reveal neural mechanisms in musicians that are able to detect errors prior to the execution of erroneous movements. The underlying mechanism probably relies on predictive control processes that compare the predicted outcome of an action with the action goal.

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    • "Music performance relies on the interplay between several cognitive processes such as the retrieval from memory of the musical structure and pitch content, the preparation in advance of the events planned for production and, last but not least, the communication of expressive effects (Palmer, 1997; Janata and Grafton, 2003; Zatorre et al., 2007; Hallam et al., 2008). These processes likely add additional temporal variability to the performance, as reflected in the automatic slowing following a pitch error or during the conflicting co-representation of pitch elements prior to production, and in the intentional expressive timing effects (Palmer, 1997; Palmer and Pfordresher, 2003; Herrojo Ruiz et al., 2009, 2011; Maidhof et al., 2009). The presence of LRTC in piano performance thus suggests that the generation of 1/f β noise cannot be exclusively attributed to a cognitive " timekeeper " system issuing a timing motor command. "
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    ABSTRACT: Unintentional timing deviations during musical performance can be conceived of as timing errors. However, recent research on humanizing computer-generated music has demonstrated that timing fluctuations that exhibit long-range temporal correlations (LRTC) are preferred by human listeners. This preference can be accounted for by the ubiquitous presence of LRTC in human tapping and rhythmic performances. Interestingly, the manifestation of LRTC in tapping behavior seems to be driven in a subject-specific manner by the LRTC properties of resting-state background cortical oscillatory activity. In this framework, the current study aimed to investigate whether propagation of timing deviations during the skilled, memorized piano performance (without metronome) of 17 professional pianists exhibits LRTC and whether the structure of the correlations is influenced by the presence or absence of auditory feedback. As an additional goal, we set out to investigate the influence of altering the dynamics along the cortico-basal-ganglia-thalamo-cortical network via deep brain stimulation (DBS) on the LRTC properties of musical performance. Specifically, we investigated temporal deviations during the skilled piano performance of a non-professional pianist who was treated with subthalamic-deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) due to severe Parkinson's disease, with predominant tremor affecting his right upper extremity. In the tremor-affected right hand, the timing fluctuations of the performance exhibited random correlations with DBS OFF. By contrast, DBS restored long-range dependency in the temporal fluctuations, corresponding with the general motor improvement on DBS. Overall, the present investigations are the first to demonstrate the presence of LRTC in skilled piano performances, indicating that unintentional temporal deviations are correlated over a wide range of time scales. This phenomenon is stable after removal of the auditory feedback, but is altered by STN-DBS, which suggests
    Frontiers in Psychology 08/2014; 5. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01030 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "In conclusion, the studies reviewed in this section indicate that the coupling between sensory and motor cortices underpins predictive computations by means of internal models. The studies by Maidhof et al. (2009) (2010) and Ruiz et al. (2009, 2011) explored this notion within the musician's brain by looking at the relationship between intended sounds and executed movements. The studies by Lee and Noppeney (2011), Novembre and Keller (2011), and Sammler et al. (2013) examined the prediction of other musician's musical actions. "
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    ABSTRACT: Experience with a sensorimotor task, such as practicing a piano piece, leads to strong coupling of sensory (visual or auditory) and motor cortices. Here we review behavioral and neurophysiological (M/EEG, TMS and fMRI) research exploring this topic using the brain of musicians as a model system. Our review focuses on a recent body of evidence suggesting that this form of coupling might have (at least) two cognitive functions. First, it leads to the generation of equivalent predictions (concerning both when and what event is more likely to occur) during both perception and production of music. Second, it underpins the common coding of perception and action that supports the integration of the motor output of multiple musicians' in the context of joint musical tasks. Essentially, training-based coupling of perception and action might scaffold the human ability to represent complex (structured) actions and to entrain multiple agents-via reciprocal prediction and adaptation-in the pursuit of shared goals.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 08/2014; 8:603. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00603 · 3.63 Impact Factor
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    • "Thus for novice performers external feedback may be useful for post-error adjustments during all stages of skill acquisition. Although it has been proposed that auditory feedback is not crucial for error-monitoring in highly skilled performers (Maidhof et al., 2010; Ruiz et al., 2009), other evidence indicates that when auditory feedback is present performers still rely on the comparison between the auditory input and the motor output (Finney and Palmer, 2003; Pfordresher, 2006; Pfordresher and Palmer, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: The ability to detect and use information from errors is essential during the acquisition of new skills. There is now a wealth of evidence about the brain mechanisms involved in error processing. However, the extent to which those mechanisms are engaged during the acquisition of new motor skills remains elusive. Here we examined rhythm synchronization learning across 12 blocks of practice in musically naïve individuals and tracked changes in ERP signals associated with error-monitoring and error-awareness across distinct learning stages. Synchronization performance improved with practice, and performance improvements were accompanied by dynamic changes in ERP components related to error-monitoring and error-awareness. Early in learning, when performance was poor and the internal representations of the rhythms were weaker we observed a larger error-related negativity (ERN) following errors compared to later learning. The larger ERN during early learning likely results from greater conflict between competing motor responses, leading to greater engagement of medial-frontal conflict monitoring processes and attentional control. Later in learning, when performance had improved, we observed a smaller ERN accompanied by an enhancement of a centroparietal positive component resembling the P3. This centroparietal positive component was predictive of participant's performance accuracy, suggesting a relation between error saliency, error awareness and the consolidation of internal templates of the practiced rhythms. Moreover, we showed that during rhythm learning errors led to larger auditory evoked responses related to attention orientation which were triggered automatically and which were independent of the learning stage. The present study provides crucial new information about how the electrophysiological signatures related to error-monitoring and error-awareness change during the acquisition of new skills, extending previous work on error processing and cognitive control mechanisms to a more ecologically valid context.
    NeuroImage 06/2014; 100. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.06.034 · 6.36 Impact Factor
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