Cortico-cerebellar audio-motor regions coordinate self and other in musical joint action

Cereb Cortex. 2023 Mar 10;33(6):2804-2822. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhac243.


Joint music performance requires flexible sensorimotor coordination between self and other. Cognitive and sensory parameters of joint action-such as shared knowledge or temporal (a)synchrony-influence this coordination by shifting the balance between self-other segregation and integration. To investigate the neural bases of these parameters and their interaction during joint action, we asked pianists to play on an MR-compatible piano, in duet with a partner outside of the scanner room. Motor knowledge of the partner's musical part and the temporal compatibility of the partner's action feedback were manipulated. First, we found stronger activity and functional connectivity within cortico-cerebellar audio-motor networks when pianists had practiced their partner's part before. This indicates that they simulated and anticipated the auditory feedback of the partner by virtue of an internal model. Second, we observed stronger cerebellar activity and reduced behavioral adaptation when pianists encountered subtle asynchronies between these model-based anticipations and the perceived sensory outcome of (familiar) partner actions, indicating a shift towards self-other segregation. These combined findings demonstrate that cortico-cerebellar audio-motor networks link motor knowledge and other-produced sounds depending on cognitive and sensory factors of the joint performance, and play a crucial role in balancing self-other integration and segregation.

Keywords: cerebellum; fMRI; interpersonal synchronization; motor simulation; self-other integration and segregation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Feedback, Sensory
  • Music* / psychology
  • Psychomotor Performance*