Does beat perception rely on the covert use of the motor system?

Esther WalkerUniversity of California, San Diego
Benjamin StillermanTufts University
John IversenUniversity of California, San Diego
Aniruddh PatelTufts University
Benjamin BergenUniversity of California, San Diego

Abstract

Listening to music often drives people to move along to the beat of that music. Past research has suggested that motor resources are recruited not just to produce a beat, but also to perceive a beat. The present study extends this correlational work and examines whether the motor system plays a functional role in beat perception using a dual-task behavioral paradigm. While performance on a beat perception task was affected by a simultaneous motor task compared to a control task (Experiment 1), pitch perception was not affected (Experiment 2). Furthermore, this effect was mediated by whether or not participants had received formal musical training. The results suggest that the motor system may play a functional role in beat perception, even when people are not overtly moving in time to the beat.

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Does beat perception rely on the covert use of the motor system? (348 KB)



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