The sensation of groove engages motor and reward networks
Neurolmage, July 2020 Tomas E Matthews, Maria A.G Witek, Torben Lund, Peter Vuust, Virginia B Penhune
Abstract The sensation of groove has been defined as the pleasurable desire to move to music, suggesting that both motor timing and reward processes are involved in this experience. Although many studies have investigated rhythmic timing and musical reward separately, none have examined whether the associated cortical and subcortical networks are engaged while participants listen to groove-based music. In the current study, musicians and non-musicians listened to and rated experimentally controlled groove-based stimuli while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. Medium complexity rhythms elicited higher ratings of pleasure and wanting to move and were associated with activity in regions linked to beat perception and reward, as well as prefrontal and parietal regions implicated in generating and updating stimuli-based expectations. Activity in basal ganglia regions of interest, including the nucleus accumbens, caudate and putamen, was associated with ratings of pleasure and wanting to move, supporting their important role in the sensation of groove. We propose a model in which different cortico-striatal circuits interact to support the mechanisms underlying groove, including internal generation of the beat, beat-based expectations, and expectation-based affect. These results show that the sensation of groove is supported by motor and reward networks in the brain and, along with our proposed model, suggest that the basal ganglia are crucial nodes in networks that interact to generate this powerful response to music.
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