Moving to music: effects of heard and imagined musical cues on movement-related brain activity

Front Hum Neurosci 2014 Sep 26;8:774
Moving to music: effects of heard and imagined musical cues on movement-related brain activity

Schaefer RS1, Morcom AM2, Roberts N3, Overy K4,5
1 SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA , USA; 2 School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK; 3 Clinical Research Imaging Centre (CRIC), Queen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK; 4 Institute for Music in Human and Social Development, Reid School of Music, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK; 5 Don Wright Faculty of Music, Department of Music Education, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

Music is commonly used to facilitate or support movement, and increasingly used in movement rehabilitation. Additionally, there is some evidence to suggest that music imagery, which is reported to lead to brain signatures similar to music perception, may also assist movement. However, it is not yet known whether either imagined or musical cueing changes the way in which the motor system of the human brain is activated during simple movements. Here, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to compare neural activity during wrist flexions performed to either heard or imagined music with self-pacing of the same movement without any cueing. Focusing specifically on the motor network of the brain, analyses were performed within a mask of BA4, BA6, the basal ganglia (putamen, caudate, and pallidum), the motor nuclei of the thalamus, and the whole cerebellum. Results revealed that moving to music compared with self-paced movement resulted in significantly increased activation in left cerebellum VI. Moving to imagined music led to significantly more activation in pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA) and right globus pallidus, relative to self-paced movement. When the music and imagery cueing conditions were contrasted directly, movements in the music condition showed significantly more activity in left hemisphere cerebellum VII and right hemisphere and vermis of cerebellum IX, while the imagery condition revealed more significant activity in pre-SMA. These results suggest that cueing movement with actual or imagined music impacts upon engagement of motor network regions during the movement, and suggest that heard and imagined cues can modulate movement in subtly different ways. These results may have implications for the applicability of auditory cueing in movement rehabilitation for different patient populations.