Anodal transcranial direct stimulation reveals causal links between the supplementary motor area and groove perception
Marina de Oliveira Emerick1,2 (email@example.com), Jessica A. Grahn2,3; 1Neuroscience Program, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, The University of Western Ontario, 2Brain and Mind Institute, The University of Western Ontario, 3Department of Psychology, Social Science, The University of Western Ontario
Why we experience 'groove’, or the pleasurable feeling of 'wanting to move' to music, remains to be understood. One reason may be that groove is related to increases in motor brain activity. For example, transcranial magnetic stimulation over the primary motor cortex shows that high-groove music elicits higher corticospinal excitability than low-groove music. However, there is a lack of causal evidence that motor areas contribute to groove perception. Here we used transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a causal method that modulates brain excitability in two opposite directions: anodal stimulation, which increases cortical excitability, and cathodal stimulation, which inhibits cortical excitability. We targeted the supplementary motor area (SMA), an area that fMRI studies indicate has higher activity for high-groove rhythms. Sixty subjects (anodal N = 31; cathodal N = 29) participated in two sessions, receiving active tDCS or sham while rating experienced groove and pleasure to 40 drum sequences from the Lucerne Groove Research Library. We predicted that anodal tDCS would increase groove ratings, while cathodal tDCS would decrease them relative to sham stimulation. As expected, anodal stimulation increased groove ratings when compared to sham, but no effect of cathodal stimulation was found. Thus, the results support that the SMA plays a role in groove perception—greater SMA excitability leads to greater experience of groove. Further research could examine whether SMA stimulation selectively alters groove, or concomitantly alters the perception of other musical features.
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Audition
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