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Neuroimage. 2006 Jun;31(2):832-41. Epub 2006 Mar 3.

It don't mean a thing... Keeping the rhythm during polyrhythmic tension, activates language areas (BA47).

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Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark.


Music is experienced and understood on the basis of foreground/background relationships created between actual music and the underlying meter. In contemporary styles of music so-called polyrhythmic, structures hence create tension between a counter pulse and the main pulse. This exerts a marked influence on the listener, particularly when the experience of the original meter is maintained during the counter pulse. We here demonstrate that Brodmann area 47, an area associated with higher processing of language, is activated bilaterally when musicians tap the main pulse in a polymetric context where the music emphasizes a counter meter. This suggests that the processing of metric elements of music relies on brain areas also involved in language comprehension. We propose that BA47 is involved in general neuronal processing of temporal coherence subserving both language and music.

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