The discovery of human auditory-motor entrainment and its role in the development of neurologic music therapy

Prog Brain Res. 2015;217:253-66. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2014.11.030. Epub 2015 Feb 2.


The discovery of rhythmic auditory-motor entrainment in clinical populations was a historical breakthrough in demonstrating for the first time a neurological mechanism linking music to retraining brain and behavioral functions. Early pilot studies from this research center were followed up by a systematic line of research studying rhythmic auditory stimulation on motor therapies for stroke, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, and other movement disorders. The comprehensive effects on improving multiple aspects of motor control established the first neuroscience-based clinical method in music, which became the bedrock for the later development of neurologic music therapy. The discovery of entrainment fundamentally shifted and extended the view of the therapeutic properties of music from a psychosocially dominated view to a view using the structural elements of music to retrain motor control, speech and language function, and cognitive functions such as attention and memory.

Keywords: entrainment; neurologic music therapy; neurorehabilitation; neuroscience; rhythm.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Movement Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Nervous System Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Periodicity
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*