Keeping the beat: It’s all in your brain

Keeping the beat: It’s all in your brain

How do people coordinate their actions with the sounds they hear? This basic ability, which allows people to cross the street safely while hearing oncoming traffic, dance to new music or perform team events such as rowing, has puzzled cognitive neuroscientists for years. A new study is shining a light on how auditory perception and motor processes work together.

“We were surprised that even highly trained musicians sometimes showed reduced ability to synchronize with complex rhythms, and that this was reflected in their EEGs,” said co-first authors Brian Mathias and Anna Zamm, both PhD students in the Palmer lab. “Most musicians are good synchronizers; nonetheless, this signal was sensitive enough to distinguish the “good” from the “better” or “super-synchronizers,” as we sometimes call them.”

By Professor Caroline Palmer, McGill University

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