Degree Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Albert L. Porterfield

Committee Member(s)

Patrick Simen
Sara Verosky


Beat perception, Entrainment, Music, Meter, Music cognition


Perception of beat and meter is a nearly universal human skill that requires little to no conscious effort. However, the extent to which music training influences this perception in the brain remains unknown. Music performance requires high sensitivity to timing and physical entrainment to external auditory stimuli. Additionally, compared to untrained individuals, musicians show higher performance on a number of auditory and speech tasks, as well as different brain morphology and fiber connections. Beat and meter perception are thought to be subtended by oscillations of groups of neurons at corresponding frequencies. Here, electroencephalography (EEG) was used to examine the magnitude of neuronal entrainment to beat and meter in individuals with high or low levels of music training. EEG signals were recorded while participants attended to a musical beat, and then imagined a binary or ternary meter over that beat. Beat-keeping ability was also assessed using a synchronous tapping task. A strong EEG signal was observed selectively at beat and meter frequencies, indicating entrainment across participants. No differences in the magnitude of entrainment were observed based on level of music training or beat-keeping ability. These results suggest that music training may not influence beat and meter perception at the level of neural networks and that entrainment could be innate. Broadly, results provide a foundation for further research into whether entrainment has evolutionary significance.

Included in

Psychology Commons