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Andreas Roepstorff

Tapping polyrhythms in music activates language areas

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Music is experienced and understood on the basis of foreground/background relationships and tension created between actual music and the underlying meter. Polyrhythms create tension between a counter meter and the main meter. Previously, we have shown that Brodmann area 47 (BA47), a brain area associated with processing of language, is activated bilaterally when musicians tap the main meter in a polymetric context emphasizing a counter meter, suggesting that processing of metric elements in music relies on brain areas also involved in language processing. In that study, the tension was created entirely by changes in the stimulus while participants were tapping the main meter. Here we find left-hemispheric BA47 activation in response to a self-produced counter meter on top of a main meter provided by an ecological music excerpt. This data indicates that the activation is linked to polyrhythmic tension, regardless of whether it arises from the stimulus or the task.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Pages (from-to)211-216
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2011

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