A review of psychological and neuroscientific research on musical groove

Takahide Etani*, Akito Miura, Satoshi Kawase, Shinya Fujii, Peter E. Keller, Peter Vuust, Kazutoshi Kudo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperReviewResearchpeer-review


When listening to music, we naturally move our bodies rhythmically to the beat, which can be pleasurable and difficult to resist. This pleasurable sensation of wanting to move the body to music has been called “groove.” Following pioneering humanities research, psychological and neuroscientific studies have provided insights on associated musical features, behavioral responses, phenomenological aspects, and brain structural and functional correlates of the groove experience. Groove research has advanced the field of music science and more generally informed our understanding of bidirectional links between perception and action, and the role of the motor system in prediction. Activity in motor and reward-related brain networks during music listening is associated with the groove experience, and this neural activity is linked to temporal prediction and learning. This article reviews research on groove as a psychological phenomenon with neurophysiological correlates that link musical rhythm perception, sensorimotor prediction, and reward processing. Promising future research directions range from elucidating specific neural mechanisms to exploring clinical applications and socio-cultural implications of groove.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105522
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • ASAP hypothesis
  • Beat
  • Body movement
  • Dynamic attending theory
  • Embodied cognition
  • Groove
  • Music
  • Pleasure
  • Predictive coding
  • Reward
  • Rhythm
  • Sensorimotor interactions
  • Music/psychology
  • Sensation
  • Auditory Perception/physiology
  • Humans
  • Brain/physiology

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