The Musician Redefined: A Behavioral Assessment of Rhythm Perception in Professional Club DJs

in Timing & Time Perception
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


Studies of musical training demonstrate functional advantages in rhythm tasks that result from enriched auditory experience. Anatomical correlates exist in brain areas involved in auditory perception, speech processing, motor control, attention, and emotion. However, these studies fail to include many classes of musicians that might undergo experience-related change. The current study examined rhythm processing in professional disc jockeys (DJs) who routinely engage in temporally-demanding tasks during practice and performance. In Experiment 1, DJs outperformed controls at detecting a deviation in a rhythmic pattern, and were no different than trained percussionists. In Experiment 2, participants receiving one week of DJ training trended toward outperforming untrained participants on this same measure. Across experiments, movement improved detection of rhythmic deviations, providing evidence of privileged auditory-motor connections, and underscoring the importance of motor areas to rhythm perception. It is clear that DJs show experience-dependent changes in perception that are comparable to more traditional musicians.

The Musician Redefined: A Behavioral Assessment of Rhythm Perception in Professional Club DJs

in Timing & Time Perception



Abdul-KareemI. A.StancakA.ParkesL. M. &SlumingV. (2011). Increased gray matter volume of left pars opercularis in male orchestral musicians correlate positively with years of musical performance. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging332432.

AscherslebenG. (2002). Temporal control of movements in sensorimotor synchronization. Brain Cogn.486679.

BengtssonS. L.UllénF.EhrssonH. H.HashimotoT.KitoT.NaitoE.ForssbergH. &SadatoN. (2009). Listening to rhythms activates motor and premotor cortices. Cortex456271.

BrownM. B. &ForsytheA. B. (1974). Robust tests for the equality of variances. J. Am. Stat. Assoc.69364367.

BuhusiC. &MeckW. (2005). What makes us tick? Functional and neural mechanisms of interval timing. Nat. Rev. Neurol.6755765.

ChapinH. L.ZantoT.JantzenK. J.KelsoS. J. A.SteinbergF. &LargeE. W. (2010). Neural responses to complex auditory rhythms: The role of attending. Front. Psychol.1224.

ChenY.ReppB. H. &PatelA. D. (2002). Spectral decomposition of variability in synchronization and continuation tapping: Comparisons between auditory and visual pacing and feedback conditions. Hum. Mov. Sci.21515532.

ChenJ. L.PenhuneV. B. &ZatorreR. J. (2008). Listening to musical rhythms recruits motor regions of the brain. Cereb. Cortex1828442854.

ChenJ. L.PenhuneV. B. &ZatorreR. J. (2009). The role of auditory and premotor cortex in sensorimotor transformations. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci.11691534.

CohenJ. (1969). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences. New York, NY, USA: Academic Press.

CorrigallK. A.SchellenbergE. G. &MisuraN. M. (2013). Music training, cognition, and personality. Front. Psychol.4222.

CoullJ. T.ChengR.-K. &MeckW. H. (2010). Neuroanatomical and neurochemical substrates of timing. Neuropsychopharmacology36325.

DelignièresD.LemoineL. &TorreK. (2004). Time intervals production in tapping and oscillatory motion. Hum. Mov. Sci.2387103.

DoyaK. (1999). What are the computations of the cerebellum, the basal ganglia, and the cerebral cortex?Neural Netw.12961974.

ElbertT.PantevC.WienbruchC.RockstrohB. &TaubE. (1995). Increased cortical representation of the fingers of the left hand in string players. Science270305307.

FieldA. (2013). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics4th ed. Sussex, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd.

FlachR. (2005). The transition from synchronization to continuation. Hum. Mov. Sci.24465483.

FraisseP. (1966). L’anticipation de stimulus rhythmiques: Vitesse d’établissement et précision de la synchronization [Anticipation of rhythmic stimuli: Rate of establishment and precision of synchronization]. Annee Psychol.661536.

FujiokaT.RossB.KakigiR.PantevC. &TrainorL. J. (2006). One year of musical training affects development of auditory cortical-evoked fields in young children. Brain12925932608.

FujiokaT.TrainorL. J.LargeE. W. &RossB. (2012). Internalized timing of isochronous sounds is represented in neuromagnetic beta oscillations. J. Neurosci.3217911802.

GaserC. &SchlaugG. (2003). Brain structures differ between musicians and non-musicians. J. Neurosci.2392409245.

GerryD.UnrauA. &TrainorL. J. (2012). Active music classes in infancy enhance musical, communicative and social development. Dev. Sci.15398407.

GrahnJ. A. (2012). Neural mechanisms of rhythm perception: Current findings and future perspectives. Top. Cogn. Sci.4585606.

GrahnJ. A. &BrettM. (2007). Rhythm and beat perception in motor areas of the brain. J. Cogn. Neurosci.19893906.

GrahnJ. A. &RoweJ. B. (2009). Feeling the beat: Premotor and striatal interactions in musicians and nonmusicians during beat perception. J. Neurosci.2975407548.

GrubeM.CooperF. E.ChinneryP. F. &GriffithsT. D. (2010). Dissociation of duration-based and beat-based auditory timing in cerebellar degeneration. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci.1071159711601.

HalwaniG. F.LouiP.RuberT. &SchlaugG. (2011). Effects of practice and experience on the arcuate fasiculus: Comparing singers, instrumentalists, and non-musicians. Front. Psych.23947.

HerholzS. C. &ZatorreR. J. (2012). Musical training as a framework for brain plasticity: Behavior, function, and structure. Neuron76486502.

HintonS. C. &RauscherF. H. (2003). Type of music training selectively influences perceptual processing. In KopiezR.LehmannA. C.WoltherI. & WolfC. (Eds) Proceedings of the 5thTriennial ESCOM conference (pp. 8992). HanoverGermany.

IversenJ. R.ReppB. H. &PatelA. D. (2009). Top-down control of rhythm perception modulates early auditory responses. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci.11695873.

JamesC. E.MichelC. M.BritzJ.VuilleumierP. &HauertC.-A. (2012). Rhythm evokes action: Early processing of metric deviances in expressive music by experts and laymen revealed by ERP source imaging. Hum. Brain. Map.3327512767.

KrausN. &ChandrasekaranB. (2010). Music training for the development of auditory skills. Nat. Rev. Neurosci.11599605.

KrauseV.PollokB. &SchnitzlerA. (2010). Perception in action: The impact of sensory information on sensorimotor synchronization in musicians and non-musicians. Acta Psychol.1332837.

LangoisT. (1992). Can you feel it? DJs and house music culture in the UK. Pop Music11229238.

LappeC.HerholzS. C.TrainorN. J. &PantevC. (2008). Cortical plasticity induced by short-term unimodal and multimodal musical training. J. Neurosci.2896329639.

LappeC.TrainorN. J.HerholzS. C. &PantevC. (2011). Cortical plasticity induced by short-term multimodal musical rhythm training. PLoS ONE6e21493. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021493.

LewisP. &MiallR. (2003). Distinct systems for automatic and cognitively controlled time measurement: Evidence from neuroimaging. Curr. Opin. Neurobiol.13250255.

MacmillanN. A. & KaplanH. L. (1985). Detection theory analysis of group data: Estimating sensitivity from average hit and false-alarm rates. Psychol. Bull.98185199.

ManningF. &SchutzM. (2013). “Moving to the beat” improves timing perception. Psychon. Bull. Rev.2011331139.

MeyerM.ElmerS. &JänckeL. (2012). Musical expertise induces neuroplasticity of the planum temporale. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci.1252116123.

PantevC.RobertsL. E.SchulzM.EngelienA. &RossB. (2001). Timbre-specific enhancement of auditory cortical representations in musicians. Neuroreport12169174.

Parberry-ClarkA.StraitD. L. &KrausN. (2011). Context-dependent encoding in the auditory brainstem subserves enhanced speech-in-noise perception in humans. Neuropsychologia4933383345.

PatelA. D. (2011). Why would musical training benefit the neural encoding of speech? The OPERA hypothesis. Front. Psychol.2142.

Phillips-SilverJ. &TrainorL. J. (2005). Feeling the beat in music: Movement influences rhythm perception in infants. Science3081430.

Phillips-SilverJ. &TrainorL. J. (2007). Hearing what the body feels: Auditory encoding of rhythmic movement. Cognition105533546.

ReppB. H. (2005). Sensorimotor synchronization: A review of the tapping literature. Psychon. Bull. Rev.12969992.

ReppB. H. (2010). Sensorimotor synchronization and perception of timing: Effects of music training and task experience. Hum. Mov. Sci.29200213.

ReppB. H. &DoggettR. (2007). Tapping to a very slow beat: A comparison of musicians and non-musicians. Music Percept.24367376.

ReppB. H. &SuY.-H. (2013). Sensorimotor synchronization: A review of recent research (2006–2012). Psychon. Bull. Rev.20403452.

ReppB. H.LondonJ. &KellerP. E. (2013). Systematic distortions in musicians’ reproduction of cyclic three-interval rhythms. Music Percept.30291305.

SchellenbergE. G. (2004). Music lessons enhance IQ. Psych. Sci.15511514.

SchellenbergE. G. &WeissM. W. (2013). Music and cognitive abilities. In DeutschD. (Ed.) The psychology of music3rd ed. (pp. 499550). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.

SchneiderP.SchergM.DoschH. G.SpechtH. J.GutschalkA. &RuppA. (2002). Morphology of Heschl’s gyrus reflects enhanced activation in the auditory cortex of musicians. Nat. Neurosci.5688694.

SchubotzR. I. &von CramonD. Y. (2001). Interval and ordinal properties of sequences are associated with distinct premotor areas. Cereb. Cortex11210222.

SchulzeK.ZyssetS.MuellerK.FriedericiA. D. &KoelschS. (2010). Neuroarchitecture of verbal and tonal working memory in nonmusicians and musicians. Hum. Brain Map.32771783.

SnyderJ. S.HannonE. E.LargeE. W. &ChristiansenM. H. (2006). Continuation tapping to complex meters. Music Percept.24135146.

SpencerR. M. C.ZelaznikH. N.DiedrichsenJ. &IvryR. B. (2003). Disrupted timing of discontinuous but not continuous movements by cerebellar lesions. Science30014371439.

SpencerR. M. C.IvryR. B. &ZelaznikH. N. (2005). Role of the cerebellum in movements: Control of timing or movement transitions?Exp. Brain Res.161383396.

SteeleC.BaileyJ. A.ZatorreR. J. &PenhuneV. B. (2013). Early musical training and white-matter plasticity in the corpus callosum: Evidence for a sensitive period. J. Neurosci.3312821290.

StoklasaJ.LiebermannC. &FischingerT. (2012). Timing and synchronization of professional musicians: A comparison between orchestral brass and string players. Paper presented at the 12th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition. ThessalonikiGreece.

TekiS.GrubeM.KumarS. &GriffithsT. D. (2011). Distinct neural substrates of duration-based and beat-based auditory timing. J. Neurosci.3138053812.

TekiS.GrubeM. &GriffithsT. D. (2012). A unified model of time perception accounts for duration-based and beat-based timing mechanisms. Front. Int. Neurosci.590.

TrainorL. J. &CorrigallK. A. (2010). Music acquisition and effects of musical experience. In Riess-JonesM. & FayR. R. (Eds) Springer handbook of auditory research: Music perception (pp. 89128). Heidelberg, Germany: Springer.

TrainorL. J. &HannonE. E. (2013). Musical development. In DeutschD. (Ed.) The psychology of music3rd ed. (pp. 423498). Amderdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.

TrainorL. J.MarieC.GerryD.WhiskinE. &UnrauA. (2012). Becoming musically encultured: Effects of music classes for infants on brain and behaviour. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci.1252129138.

WienerM.TurkeltaubP. &CoslettH. B. (2010). The image of time: A voxel-wise meta-analysis. Neuroimage4917281740.

WingA. M. &KristoffersonA. B. (1973). Response delays in the timing of discrete motor responses. Percept. Psychophys.14512.


  • View in gallery

    A representation of the stimulus sequence presented in Experiments 1 and 2. Large and small squares represent downbeats and upbeats, respectively. The target stimulus at the end of the sequence is denoted with an arrow. Participants entrained to the acoustic stimuli (grey boxes) and were asked to judge whether the target stimulus presented following a period of silence (white boxes) occurred on-time, or too early.

  • View in gallery

    Mean sensitivity (d′) of participants in Experiment 1 to different temporal offsets in a rhythmic sequence. Sensitivity measures are presented for DJs (circles), percussionists (squares), and control subjects (triangles), in the movement (solid) and no-movement (dashed) conditions.

  • View in gallery

    Mean sensitivity (d′) of participants in Experiment 2 to different temporal offsets in a rhythmic sequence. Panel A shows the sensitivity of participants before (filled symbols) and after (open symbols) receiving DJ training. Panel B shows the sensitivity of control subjects at baseline (filled symbols) and follow-up (open symbols) measures. In both panels, data are presented from the movement (solid lines) and no-movement (dashed lines) conditions.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 30 30 13
Full Text Views 87 87 73
PDF Downloads 7 7 5
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0