Musical groove modulates motor cortex excitability: A TMS investigation

Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany.
Brain and Cognition (Impact Factor: 2.48). 05/2013; 82(2):127-136. DOI: 10.1016/j.bandc.2013.03.003
Source: PubMed


Groove is often described as a musical quality that can induce movement in a listener. This study examines the effects of listening to groove music on corticospinal excitability. Musicians and non-musicians listened to high-groove music, low-groove music, and spectrally matched noise, while receiving single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the primary motor cortex either on-beat or off-beat. We examined changes in the amplitude of the motor-evoked potentials (MEPs), recorded from hand and arm muscles, as an index of activity within the motor system. Musicians and non-musicians rated groove similarly. MEP results showed that high-groove music modulated corticospinal excitability, whereas no difference occurred between low-groove music and noise. More specifically, musicians' MEPs were larger with high-groove than low-groove music, and this effect was especially pronounced for on-beat compared to off-beat pulses. These results indicate that high-groove music increasingly engages the motor system, and the temporal modulation of corticospinal excitability with the beat could stem from tight auditory-motor links in musicians. Conversely, non-musicians' MEPs were smaller for high-groove than low-groove music, and there was no effect of on- versus off-beat pulses, potentially stemming from suppression of overt movement. In sum, high-groove music engages the motor system, and previous training modulates how listening to music with a strong groove activates the motor system.

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    • "Although tapping and rating trials were completed at separate times, individual correlations for each participant indicated that the variability of tap-to-beat asynchronies tended to be lower with audio clips that were rated higher on groove. This observation supports previous suggestions Audio Features of Groove 27 that the ease of sensorimotor coupling with musical stimuli underlies perceived and experienced groove (Fairhurst, Janata, & Keller, 2013; Janata et al., 2012; Stupacher et al., 2013). In sum, we found some evidence that low bass frequencies can positively affect groove ratings and tapping performances, but these effects are probably not independent from more general musical aspects like instrumentation, songwriting, genre, or mixing and mastering. "
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    ABSTRACT: The experience of groove is associated with the urge to move to a musical rhythm. Here we focus on the relevance of audio features, obtained using music information retrieval (MIR) tools, for explaining the perception of groove and music-related movement. In the first of three studies, we extracted audio features from clips of real music previously rated on perceived groove. Measures of variability, such as the variance of the audio signal’s RMS curve and spectral flux (particularly in low frequencies) predicted groove ratings. Additionally, we dissociated two forms of event density, showing that an algorithm that emphasizes variability between beats predicted groove ratings better. In Study 2 we manipulated RMS levels and groove category (low, mid, and high groove) to confirm that perceived groove is not a function of loudness. In Study 3 we utilized novel music clips that manipulated the frequency of bass and bass drum (low vs. high) and attack time (short vs. long). Groove ratings and tapping velocities tended to be higher and tapping variability tended to be lower when the bass instruments had lower frequencies. The present findings emphasize the multifaceted nature of groove by linking audio and musical qualities to subjective experience and motor behavior.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2016 · Music Perception
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    • "Six musical stimuli were selected from a collection of music ranked for level of groove (Janata et al., 2012): three high-groove musical clips and three low-groove musical clips (matched for vocals, meter, and tempo; cf. Stupacher et al., 2013). See Table 1 for details about the musical stimuli. "
    Dataset: Jessica JEP

    Full-text · Dataset · Jan 2016
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    • "Six musical stimuli were selected from a collection of music ranked for level of groove (Janata et al., 2012): three high-groove musical clips and three low-groove musical clips (matched for vocals, meter, and tempo; cf. Stupacher et al., 2013). See Table 1 for details about the musical stimuli. "
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    ABSTRACT: Timescales of postural fluctuation reflect underlying neuromuscular processes in balance control that are influenced by sensory information and the performance of concurrent cognitive and motor tasks. An open question is how postural fluctuations entrain to complex environmental rhythms, such as in music, which also vary on multiple timescales. Musical groove describes the property of music that encourages auditory-motor synchronization and is used to study voluntary motor entrainment to rhythmic sounds. The influence of groove on balance control mechanisms remains unexplored. We recorded fluctuations in center of pressure (CoP) of standing participants (N = 40) listening to low and high groove music and during quiet stance. We found an effect of musical groove on radial sway variability, with the least amount of variability in the high groove condition. In addition, we observed that groove influenced postural sway entrainment at various temporal scales. For example, with increasing levels of groove, we observed more entrainment to shorter, local timescale rhythmic musical occurrences. In contrast, we observed more entrainment to longer, global timescale features of the music, such as periodicity, with decreasing levels of groove. Finally, musical experience influenced the amount of postural variability and entrainment at local and global timescales. We conclude that groove in music and musical experience can influence the neural mechanisms that govern balance control, and discuss implications of our findings in terms of multiscale sensorimotor coupling. (PsycINFO Database Record
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception & Performance
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