Music Style Not Only Modulates the Auditory Cortex, but Also Motor Related Areas

Neuroscience. 2021 Mar 1:457:88-102. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2021.01.012. Epub 2021 Jan 17.


The neuroscience of music has recently attracted significant attention, but the effect of music style on the activation of auditory-motor regions has not been explored. The aim of the present study is to analyze the differences in brain activity during passive listening to non-vocal excerpts of four different music genres (classical, reggaeton, electronic and folk). A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment was performed. Twenty-eight participants with no musical training were included in the study. They had to passively listen to music excerpts of the above genres during fMRI acquisition. Imaging analysis was performed at the whole-brain-level and in auditory-motor regions of interest (ROIs). Furthermore, the musical competence of each participant was measured and its relationship with brain activity in the studied ROIs was analyzed. The whole brain analysis showed higher brain activity during reggaeton listening than the other music genres in auditory-related areas. The ROI-analysis showed that reggaeton led to higher activity not only in auditory related areas, but also in some motor related areas, mainly when it was compared with classical music. A positive relationship between the melodic-Music Ear Test (MET) score and brain activity during reggaeton listening was identified in some auditory and motor related areas. The findings revealed that listening to different music styles in musically inexperienced subjects elicits different brain activity in auditory and motor related areas. Reggaeton was, among the studied music genres, the one that evoked the highest activity in the auditory-motor network. These findings are discussed in connection with acoustic analyses of the musical stimuli.

Keywords: auditory–motor areas; fMRI; music; music genre.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Auditory Cortex*
  • Auditory Perception
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Motor Cortex*
  • Music*