Getting the beat: Entrainment of brain activity by musical rhythm and pleasantness



Rhythmic entrainment is an important component of emotion induction by music, but brain circuits recruite dur-
ing spontaneous entrainment of attention by music and the influence of the subjective emotional feelings evoked
by music remain still largely unresolved. In this study we used fMRI to test whether the metric structure of music
entrains brain activity and how music pleasantness influences such entrainment. Participants listened to piano
music while performing a speeded visuomotor detection task in which targets appeared time-locked to either
strong or weak beats. Each musical piece was presented in both a consonant/pleasant and dissonant/unpleasant
version. Consonant music facilitated target detection and targets presented synchronously with strong beats
were detected faster. FMRI showed increased activation of bilateral caudate nucleus when responding on strong
subcortical brain circuits by music.