Mirror-like mechanisms and music

ScientificWorldJournal. 2009 Dec 16;9:1415-22. doi: 10.1100/tsw.2009.160.


The neural processes underlying sensory-motor integration have always attracted strong interest. The classic view is that action and perception are two extremes of mental operations. In the past 2 decades, though, a large number of discoveries have indeed refuted such an interpretation in favor of a more integrated view. Specifically, the discovery of mirror neurons in monkey premotor cortex is a rather strong demonstration that sensory and motor processes share the same neural substrates. In fact, these cells show complex sensory-motor properties, such that observed, heard, or executed goal-directed actions could equally activate these neurons. On the other hand, the neuroscience of music has similarly emerged as an active and productive field of research. In fact, music-related behaviors are a useful model of action-perception mechanisms and how they develop through training. More recently, these two lines of research have begun to intersect into a novel branch of research. As a consequence, it has been proposed recently that mirror-like mechanisms might be at the basis of human music perception-production abilities. The scope of the present short review is to set the scientific background for mirror-like mechanisms in music by examining recent published data.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Music / psychology*