To the beat of your own drum: cortical regularization of non-integer ratio rhythms toward metrical patterns

Motz BA, Erickson MA, Hetrick WP; Brain Cogn 2013 Feb 21;81(3):329-336

Humans perceive a wide range of temporal patterns, including those rhythms that occur in music, speech, and movement; however, there are constraints on the rhythmic patterns that we can represent. Past research has shown that sequences in which sounds occur regularly at non-metrical locations in a repeating beat period (non-integer ratio subdivisions of the beat, e.g. sounds at 430ms in a 1000ms beat) are represented less accurately than sequences with metrical relationships, where events occur at even subdivisions of the beat (integer ratios, e.g. sounds at 500ms in a 1000ms beat). Why do non-integer ratio rhythms present cognitive challenges? An emerging theory is that non-integer ratio sequences are represented incorrectly, “regularized” in the direction of the nearest metrical pattern, and the present study sought evidence of such perceptual regularization toward integer ratio relationships. Participants listened to metrical and non-metrical rhythmic auditory sequences during electroencephalogram recording, and sounds were pseudorandomly omitted from the stimulus sequence. Cortical responses to these omissions (omission elicited potentials; OEPs) were used to estimate the timing of expectations for omitted sounds in integer ratio and non-integer ratio locations. OEP amplitude and onset latency measures indicated that expectations for non-integer ratio sequences are distorted toward the nearest metrical location in the rhythmic period. These top-down effects demonstrate metrical regularization in a purely perceptual context, and provide support for dynamical accounts of rhythm perception.

Northeast Music Cognition Group Meeting


The next semiannual meeting of the Northeast Music Cognition Group (NEMCOG) will take place at New York University on Saturday, April 27. The goal of the group is to facilitate interaction among
researchers at institutions along the Northeast Corridor who are interested in the area of music cognition, to discuss research in the field, and to identify topics of joint interest and areas for potential

If you would like to attend the upcoming NEMCOG meeting, please RSVP to by Friday, April 5.

The general schedule for the workshop is as follows:

9:00 am Registration and breakfast
9:30 am 8-minute talks
12:30 pm Lunch break
2:30 pm Keynote talk by Philip Johnson-Laird
5:30 pm Closing Remarks and Discussion

New York University
35 W. 4th St., 6th Floor
New York, NY

You are optionally invited to give a very short (8 minute) and semi-formal presentation of your work, aimed at a fairly general audience that will include people with established research programs in areas
outside your specialty, as well as students and other newcomers to the field. The goal is simply to give a broadly contextualized sense of the questions you’re asking, not a detailed picture of your answers.
At our previous meetings, we have found the 8-minute format to be expedient, exhilarating, and successful for both presenters and audience members!

We hope to make slots for eight-minute talks available to all, but in an effort to make room for speakers who have not spoken at NEMCOG previously, we may have to turn down some requests for slots at
this meeting. If you would like to do a presentation, please indicate so in your RSVP with a tentative title and, optionally, a short abstract or bio. This information will be shared with our attendees and
posted on our web site.

If you cannot attend this spring’s meeting, you can stay informed of the group’s activities through continued inclusion on our e-mail list. If this message was forwarded to you by a colleague or through
another e-mail list, and you would like to receive our regular announcements, please sign up for our mailing lists at

Please circulate this invitation widely to anybody that you think might be interested and able to attend either this meeting or future meetings elsewhere in the Northeast Corridor.

NEMCOG Executive Committee:
Morwaread Farbood, NYU
Psyche Loui, Harvard
Panayotis Mavromatis, NYU
Eve Poudrier, Yale
Ian Quinn, Yale

Microtiming in Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor

On Thursday, March 7, we will have a guest workshop with Dr. Mitch Ohriner on the topic of prformance analysis and microtiming. In preparation for the workshop, listen to the two performances of Chopin’s Prelude in E minor, Op. 24/4 posted on classes*v2 (in Resources>Performance Analysis Workshop; a score is also available in the same folder).

Think about the two following questions:

  1. Where are the major divisions in this piece, and what makes them seem like divisions?
  2. Compare the performances of Martha Argerich and Edward Auer. What are the similarities and differences? Which of those pertain to rhythm or timing?

Post a short response to these questions by Thursday, March 7 @ 10 AM.