When direction matters: Neural correlates of interlimb coordination of rhythm and beat

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In a previous experiment, we found evidence for a bodily hierarchy governing interlimb coordination of rhythm and beat, using five effectors: 1) Left foot, 2) Right foot, 3) Left hand, 4) Right hand and 5) Voice. The hierarchy implies that, during simultaneous rhythm and beat performance and using combinations of two of these effectors, executing the task by performing the rhythm with an effector that has a higher number than the beat effector is significantly easier than vice versa. To investigate the neural underpinnings of this proposed bodily hierarchy, we here scanned 46 professional musicians using fMRI as they performed a rhythmic pattern with one effector while keeping the beat with another. The conditions combined the voice and the right hand (V + RH), the right hand and the left hand (RH + LH), and the left hand and the right foot (LH + RF). Each effector combination was performed with and against the bodily hierarchy. Going against the bodily hierarchy increased tapping errors significantly and also increased activity in key brain areas functionally associated with top-down sensorimotor control and bottom-up feedback processing, such as the cerebellum and SMA. Conversely, going with the bodily hierarchy engaged areas functionally associated with the default mode network and regions involved in emotion processing. Theories of general brain function that hold prediction as a key principle, propose that action and perception are governed by the brain's attempt to minimise prediction error at different levels in the brain. Following this viewpoint, our results indicate that going against the hierarchy induces stronger prediction errors, while going with the hierarchy allows for a higher degree of automatization. Our results also support the notion of a bodily hierarchy in motor control that prioritizes certain conductive and supportive tapping roles in specific effector combinations.
Sider (fra-til)86-108
Antal sider23
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2024


  • Music
  • Prediction models
  • Rhythm production
  • Tapping
  • fMRI