The effects of rehearsal on auditory cortex: An fMRI study of the putative neural mechanisms of dance therapy

In: Seeing and Perceiving
Joseph F. DeSouza Centre for Vision Research, York University, CA

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Rachel Bar Centre for Vision Research, York University, CA

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We were interested in examining the time course of the evolution when beginning to learn a motor habit and it’s associated neural functional changes in the brain. To accomplish this we employed five professional dancers that were scanned using a within subjects design. Each dancer participated in four fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scanning sessions over the training and learning of a dance to a 1 min piece of music employing a typical blocked design (5 epochs with alternations of a 30-s fixation period). We also tested five control subjects that had dance experience but did not learn the dance to this music. Subjects were asked to visualize dancing while listening to a piece of music. At the first scanning session, only 4 rehearsals of the piece (initial acquisition phase) were studied. The control subjects were also tested at this time period but they had no rehearsals and had no visual exposure to the music before scanning. The second scanning session occurred one week later, after a total of 9 rehearsals. The third scanning session was completed 7 weeks after initial acquisition of the dance (the dance was performed a total of 16 times after initial training). Thus in total there were 22 scanning sessions using 10 subjects. Additionally a control motor scan was performed in each scanning session to activate motor regions that should not change activation patterns across all scanning sessions. Results revealed a significant increase of BOLD signal, across the sessions in a network of brain regions including bilateral auditory cortex to supplementary motor cortex. These results suggest that as we learn a motor sequence from music, greater neuronal activity occurs and we discuss the potential neural network involved in dance and its implications towards alternative neural regions that are potentially recruited during dance therapy.

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