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Neurobiology of Rhythmic Motor Entrainment


Address for correspondence: Dr. Marco Molinari, Experimental Neurorehabilitation Lab, I.R.C.C.S. Santa Lucia Foundation, Via Ardeatina 306, 00179 Rome, Italy. Voice: +39-6-515012600; fax: +39-6-51501679;


Abstract: Timing is extremely important for movement, and understanding the neurobiological basis of rhythm perception and reproduction can be helpful in addressing motor recovery after brain lesions. In this quest, the science of music might provide interesting hints for better understanding the brain timing mechanism. The report focuses on the neurobiological substrate of sensorimotor transformation of time data, highlighting the power of auditory rhythmic stimuli in guiding motor acts. The cerebellar role of timing is addressed in subjects with cerebellar damage; subsequently, cerebellar timing processing is highlighted through an fMRI study of professional musicians. The two approaches converge to demonstrate that different levels of time processing exist, one conscious and one not, and to support the idea that timing is a distributed function. The hypothesis that unconscious motor responses to auditory rhythmic stimuli can be relevant in guiding motor recovery and modulating music perception is advanced and discussed.