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NeuroMusic 2015 | Lucy McGarry, Ph.D.

NeuroMusic 2015

NeuroMusic was a fun event this year, as usual! This year, Brittany Roberts and I presented a poster on some post-hoc analyses for our latest gait study. We found some interesting differential effects of beat salience and enjoyment on groove for low vs. high beat perceivers. See poster attached!


Rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS) is a cuing technique used to support gait, involving synchronization of footsteps to an auditory stimulus. Music high in “groove” (desire to move to music) results in accurate synchronization, larger stride lengths, and increased walking speed. However, there is uncertainty in regards to the musical features contributing to the subjective experience of groove. Enjoyment and beat salience are considered two components of groove that may facilitate enhanced coordination with music, via enhanced release of dopamine to the basal ganglia during enjoyable aspects of music, or via enhanced neural entrainment to a salient beat that facilitates auditory-motor coupling. The present study examined the relationship between enjoyment, beat salience, and groove in an RAS paradigm. Healthy young adults walked on a sensor walkway to music they had rated as high or low in groove. Participants also rated beat salience and enjoyment of each song. High- vs- low- groove music lead to significant improvements in stride length, stride velocity, and stride width. Ratings of groove, beat salience, and enjoyment were significantly correlated; however, partial correlations revealed that only beat salience, not enjoyment, remained significant when other factors were controlled for. This demonstrates that beat salience may primarily influence perceptions of groove and mediate the correlation between enjoyment and groove. Further analyses will focus on the contributions of beat salience and enjoyment to gait parameters and future work will manipulate enjoyment and beat salience while holding groove constant to examine the relative contributions of these parameters to gait improvement.

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