BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY

April 30, 2007
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J. Devin McAuley
Dr. J. Devin McAuley with some of the brain scans taken while subjects listened to rhythmic tones

Rhythm sense may be tied to language, other abilities

When songwriter George Gershwin wrote “I got rhythm,” he may not have realized that not everyone can make that claim. New research by psychologist Dr. J. Devin McAuley may help to explain why some people “feel the beat” while others do not.

McAuley, director of the University’s J.P. Scott Center for Neuroscience, Mind and Behavior, has received a two-year grant from the GRAMMY Foundation to study the neural bases of rhythm perception. He and colleague Dr. Jessica Grahn of the University of Cambridge’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit are conducting a study to learn first which areas of the brain show activity when a beat is perceived, and then how these brain activity patterns may differ among individuals.  

The results of their study, “Neural Correlates of Individual Differences in Rhythm Perception,” may have implications that extend beyond music. Other research has suggested a possible connection between beat perception and aspects of language development.

McAuley and Grahn’s project was one of six research grants given this year by the foundation, in addition to 12 others for archiving and preservation.
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