Hearing what the body feels: auditory encoding of rhythmic movement

Cognition. 2007 Dec;105(3):533-46. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2006.11.006. Epub 2006 Dec 29.


Phillips-Silver and Trainor (Phillips-Silver, J., Trainor, L.J., (2005). Feeling the beat: movement influences infants' rhythm perception. Science, 308, 1430) demonstrated an early cross-modal interaction between body movement and auditory encoding of musical rhythm in infants. Here we show that the way adults move their bodies to music influences their auditory perception of the rhythm structure. We trained adults, while listening to an ambiguous rhythm with no accented beats, to bounce by bending their knees to interpret the rhythm either as a march or as a waltz. At test, adults identified as similar an auditory version of the rhythm pattern with accented strong beats that matched their previous bouncing experience in comparison with a version whose accents did not match. In subsequent experiments we showed that this effect does not depend on visual information, but that movement of the body is critical. Parallel results from adults and infants suggest that the movement-sound interaction develops early and is fundamental to music processing throughout life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Hearing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Perception*
  • Music*
  • Periodicity*