Daniel J Cameron and Jessica A Grahn (2015)
The Neuroscience of Rhythm
Oxford University Press, The Oxford handbook of Music Psychology, 2 ed. 22.
From a biological perspective, the ability to perceive and synchronize with a beat is a curious phenomenon and a challenging topic for neuroscientific investigation. Musical rhythm is found in every known culture, and the tendency to move in synchrony with rhythm arises without explicit training. With rare exceptions, beat synchronization is virtually exclusive to humans. Rhythm reliably elicits auditory and motor activity even without overt behavioral responses (Chen et al., 2008a; Grahn and Brett, 2007). Although it arises effortlessly in every known culture, perception of musical rhythm varies as a function of training (Cameron and Grahn, 2014; Drake, 1993; Drake, Penel and Bigand, 2000), other individual differences (Grahn and Schuit, 2012), and culture (e.g., Cameron, Bentley and Grahn, 2015; Hannon, SOley and Ullal, 2012). Musical rhythm spans multiple domains: timing, audition, movement, attention, and even aesthetics and emotion. Despite the challenge presented by the diversity of relevant domains, neuroscientific studies using various methodological and the theoretical perspectives have provided significant insight into the neural processing underlying musical rhythm.