Swinging in the brain: shared neural substrates for behaviors related to sequencing and music

Nat Neurosci. 2003 Jul;6(7):682-7. doi: 10.1038/nn1081.


Music consists of precisely patterned sequences of both movement and sound that engage the mind in a multitude of experiences. We move in response to music and we move in order to make music. Because of the intimate coupling between perception and action, music provides a panoramic window through which we can examine the neural organization of complex behaviors that are at the core of human nature. Although the cognitive neuroscience of music is still in its infancy, a considerable behavioral and neuroimaging literature has amassed that pertains to neural mechanisms that underlie musical experience. Here we review neuroimaging studies of explicit sequence learning and temporal production--findings that ultimately lay the groundwork for understanding how more complex musical sequences are represented and produced by the brain. These studies are also brought into an existing framework concerning the interaction of attention and time-keeping mechanisms in perceiving complex patterns of information that are distributed in time, such as those that occur in music.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cognitive Science / methods*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Music*
  • Time Factors