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Proc Biol Sci. 2017 Nov 15;284(1866). pii: 20171455. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1455.

Midbrain adaptation may set the stage for the perception of musical beat.

Author information

1
Auditory Neuroscience Group, Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
2
UCL Ear Institute, 332 Grays Inn Rd, Kings Cross, London WC1X 8EE, UK.
3
Department of Biomedical Sciences, City University of Hong Kong, 1/F, Block 1, To Yuen Building, 31 To Yuen Street, Hong Kong wschnupp@cityu.edu.hk.

Abstract

The ability to spontaneously feel a beat in music is a phenomenon widely believed to be unique to humans. Though beat perception involves the coordinated engagement of sensory, motor and cognitive processes in humans, the contribution of low-level auditory processing to the activation of these networks in a beat-specific manner is poorly understood. Here, we present evidence from a rodent model that midbrain preprocessing of sounds may already be shaping where the beat is ultimately felt. For the tested set of musical rhythms, on-beat sounds on average evoked higher firing rates than off-beat sounds, and this difference was a defining feature of the set of beat interpretations most commonly perceived by human listeners over others. Basic firing rate adaptation provided a sufficient explanation for these results. Our findings suggest that midbrain adaptation, by encoding the temporal context of sounds, creates points of neural emphasis that may influence the perceptual emergence of a beat.

KEYWORDS:

beat; electrophysiology; perception; psychophysics; rhythm; temporal processing

PMID:
29118141
PMCID:
PMC5698641
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2017.1455
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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