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Cortex. 2009 Jan;45(1):44-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2007.09.009. Epub 2008 Nov 7.

Distinct cortico-cerebellar activations in rhythmic auditory motor synchronization.

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Center for Biomedical Research in Music, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


We investigated the role of the cerebellum in differential aspects of temporal control of rhythmic auditory motor synchronization using positron emission tomography (PET). Subjects tapped with their right index finger to metronome tones at a mean frequency of .8 Hz during 5 conditions: (1) an isochronous rhythm condition, (2) random changes in interval durations, and while the duration of rhythmic intervals was continuously time-modulated following a cosine-wave function at (3) 3%, (4) 7%, and (5) 20% of base interval. Anterior lobe cerebellar neuronal populations showed similar motor-associated activity across all conditions regardless of rhythmic time structure in vermal and hemispheric parts ipsilateral to the movements. Neuronal populations in bilateral anterior posterior lobe, especially in the simple lobule, increased their activity stepwise with each increase in tempo modulation from a steady beat. Neuronal populations in other parts of the posterior lobe showed an increase of activity only during the 20% condition, which involved conscious monitoring of rhythmic pattern synchronization, especially on the left side contralateral to the movements. Differential cerebellar activation patterns correspond to those in contralateral primary (primary sensorimotor), ipsilateral secondary (inferior parietal close to the intraparietal sulcus) and bilateral tertiary (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) sensorimotor areas of the cerebral cortex, suggesting that distinct functional cortico-cerebellar circuits subserve differential aspects of rhythmic synchronization in regard to rhythmic motor control, conscious and subconscious response to temporal structure, and conscious monitoring of rhythmic pattern tracking.

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