January 17, 2021

Mapping the contents of consciousness during musical imagery

Humans can internally represent auditory information without an external stimulus. When imagining music, how similar are unfolding neural representations to those during the original perceived experience? Participants memorized six one-minute-long musical pieces with high accuracy. Functional MRI data were collected during: 1) silent imagery of melodies to the beat of a visual metronome; 2) same but while tapping to the beat; and 3) passive listening. During imagery, inter-subject comparison showed that melody-specific temporal response patterns were reinstated in right associative auditory cortices. When tapping accompanied imagery, the melody-specific neural patterns were extended to associative cortices bilaterally. These results indicate that the specific contents of conscious experience are encoded similarly during imagery and perception in the dynamic activity of auditory cortices. Furthermore, rhythmic motion can enhance the reinstatement of neural patterns associated with the experience of complex sounds, in keeping with models of motor to sensory influences in auditory processing.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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