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A brief and efficient stimulus set to create the inverted U-shaped relationship between rhythmic complexity and the sensation of groove

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When listening to music, we often feel a strong desire to move our body in relation to the pulse of the rhythm. In music psychology, this desire to move is described by the term groove. Previous research suggests that the sensation of groove is strongest when a rhythm is moderately complex, i.e., when the rhythm hits the sweet spot between being too simple to be engaging and too complex to be interpretable. This means that the relationship between rhythmic complexity and the sensation of groove can be described by an inverted U-shape (Matthews 2019). Here, we recreate this inverted U-shape with a stimulus set that was reduced from 54 to only nine rhythms. Thereby, we provide an efficient toolkit for future studies to induce and measure different levels of groove sensations. Pleasure and movement induction in relation to rhythmic complexity are emerging topics in music cognition and neuroscience. Investigating the sensation of groove is important for understanding the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying motor timing and reward processes in the general population, and in patients with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and motor impairment after stroke. The experimental manipulation of groove also provides new approaches for research on social bonding in interpersonal movement interactions that feature music. Our brief stimulus set facilitates future research on these topics by enabling the creation of efficient and concise paradigms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0266902
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

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