It is increasingly recognized that motor routines dynamically shape the processing of sensory inflow (e.g., when hand movements are used to feel a texture or identify an object). In the present research, we captured the shaping of auditory perception by movement in humans by taking advantage of a specific context: music. Participants listened to a repeated rhythmical sequence before and after moving their bodies to this rhythm in a specific meter. We found that the brain responses to the rhythm (as recorded with electroencephalography) after body movement were significantly enhanced at frequencies related to the meter to which the participants had moved. These results provide evidence that body movement can selectively shape the subsequent internal representation of auditory rhythms.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Body movements shape brain representation of musical rhythms.
Entraining our movement to music is a universal human behavior. The enhancement of social cohesion by group movements in synchrony with the rhythms of chants and songs could have had an adaptive value in human evolution. Chemin et al. have done the interesting experiment of recording EEG evoked potentials caused by study participants listening to an ambiguous rhythm, before and after a body-movement session designed to disambiguate the perception of this rhythm by favoring a specific meter (e.g., two beats per measure vs. three beats per measure). They found that the brain responses to the rhythm after body movement were significantly enhanced at frequencies related to the meter to which the participants had moved. Here is their abstract: