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Neuroimage. 2002 Aug;16(4):901-8.

Cortical systems associated with covert music rehearsal.

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Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, IRP, NIMH, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Musical representation and overt music production are necessarily complex cognitive phenomena. While overt musical performance may be observed and studied, the act of performance itself necessarily skews results toward the importance of primary sensorimotor and auditory cortices. However, imagined musical performance (IMP) represents a complex behavioral task involving components suited to exploring the physiological underpinnings of musical cognition in music performance without the sensorimotor and auditory confounds of overt performance. We mapped the blood oxygenation level-dependent fMRI activation response associated with IMP in experienced musicians independent of the piece imagined. IMP consistently activated supplementary motor and premotor areas, right superior parietal lobule, right inferior frontal gyrus, bilateral mid-frontal gyri, and bilateral lateral cerebellum in contrast with rest, in a manner distinct from fingertapping versus rest and passive listening to the same piece versus rest. These data implicate an associative network independent of primary sensorimotor and auditory activity, likely representing the cortical elements most intimately linked to music production.

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