Rhythm and the brain: evidence for beat-based timing

Jessica Grahn

Regular rhythmic patterns engage us. We tap our toes and bob our heads to the beat, clap our hands or drum on the steering wheel. This behaviour has led to the suggestion that we may use a beat-based timing mechanism for these types of regular temporal patterns, and an interval-based timer when temporal patterns have no regular beat. In beat-based timing, neural machinery synchronizes to a perceived beat, and durations to be timed are encoded and reproduced in reference to this beat. The interval timer encodes each individual duration, recalling them at any time. Beat-based timing may offer an accuracy benefit or working memory load reduction, though behavioural evidence for this has been conflicting. This talk presents a series of studies examining factors that influence whether a rhythm is beat-based. Behavioural and neural correlates of beat-based and non-beat-based rhythm processing will be dicussed.