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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    • "EEG studies on error monitoring in musicians often focus on how auditory and tactile information modulates the cortical processing of erroneous action execution (Vuust et al., 2005;Herrojo Ruiz et al., 2009;Maidhof et al., 2009Maidhof et al., , 2013). Furthermore, the effect of sensorimotor training on auditory mismatch detection has been extensively investigated (Fujioka et al., 2004;Lappe et al., 2008Lappe et al., , 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Detecting others’ action errors plays a critical role in social life. Studies indicate that executing action errors and observing other’s errors activate a specific cerebral system specialized for performance monitoring and detecting mismatches between an internal model of the action and the executed/observed one. Such a system may be particularly important for highly-skilled performance. By recording EEG in expert pianists, non-pianist musicians and musically naïve individuals while they observed correct or incorrect mute piano sequences, we explored the link between sensorimotor expertise, the ability to detect another’s erroneous action (indexed by positivity error, Pe) and action simulation (indexed by mu frequency suppression). Superior error detection in pianists was paralleled by a larger Pe, hinting at the selective activation of the parietal error-monitoring system in visuo-motor experts. Moreover, only in pianists did action observation induce left lateralized mu suppression in the 10-12 Hz band, reflecting somatotopic sensorimotor simulation. A mediation analysis showed that mu suppression and performance (indexed by d’) were mediated by Pe amplitude, indicating that the higher the simulation, the higher the sensitivity to errors for large Pe amplitude. This study shows that specific electrocortical indices link motor simulation and detection of errors in the actions of others.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Neuroscience
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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
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Frontiers in Psychology
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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.
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