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Jessica Phillips-Silver and Laurel J Trainor (2008)

Vestibular influence on auditory metrical interpretation

Brain and Cognition, 67(1):94-102.

When we move to music we feel the beat, and this feeling can shape the sound we hear. Previous studies have shown that when people listen to a metrically ambiguous rhythm pattern, moving the body on a certain beat--adults, by activelybouncing themselves in synchrony with the experimenter, and babies, by being bounced passively in the experimenter's arms--can bias their auditory metrical representation so that they interpret the pattern in a corresponding metrical form [Phillips-Silver, J., & Trainor, L. J. (2005). Feeling the beat: Movement influences infant rhythm perception. Science, 308, 1430; Phillips-Silver, J., & Trainor, L. J. (2007). Hearing what the body feels: Auditory encoding of rhythmic movement. Cognition, 105, 533-546]. The present studies show that in adults, as well as in infants, metrical encoding of rhythm can be biased by passive motion.Furthermore, because movement of the head alone affected auditory encoding whereas movement of the legs alone did not, we propose that vestibular input mayplay a key role in the effect of movement on auditory rhythm processing. We discuss possible cortical and subcortical sites for the integration of auditory and vestibular inputs that may underlie the interaction between movement and auditory metrical rhythm perception.

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