When we speak, walk, play a musical instrument we naturally and mostly automatically coordinate our actions with what we perceive. Auditory-motor skill learning plays a critical role across the lifespan, in healthy populations, in development, and in aging or disordered populations (e.g., in Parkinson’s, in children with neurodevelopmental disorders). Music is an excellent model for studying auditory-motor skill learning. Humans naturally tend to move to the regular pulse of music (i.e., the beat), for example by foot tapping or body swaying (beat perception and synchronization – BPS). Central to our research is the observation that individuals vary significantly in this ability, especially in patients with brain disorders.
The research in the lab revolves around two main research pillars:
Pillar 1: Individual differences in beat perception and synchronization
Our objective is to define individual signatures of BPS skills by testing large cohorts of participants using a comprehensive behavioral assessment of rhythmic abilities, motor control, cognitive testing, and brain activity. BPS is studied in lab-conditions but also using online testing. Core rhythmic abilities are assessed with tests require either voluntary rhythm production, via finger tapping (using the BAASTA battery), or a perceptual judgment of stimulus timing (e.g., whether a sound is aligned or not to a musical beat). BPS is also tested in more ecological conditions involving full-body motion, such as walking to the beat, in single and dual tasks, by simulating realistic conditions using virtual reality. Machine learning will be used to identify individual profiles, and their behavioral and neuronal underpinnings. By shedding light on the mechanisms underpinning individual variability in BPS we can shed light on auditory-motor skill learning in the healthy and disordered brain.
Tablet version of the Battery for the Assessment of Auditory Sensorimotor and Timing Abilities (BAASTA)
Individual differences in walking to the beat of music
Beat perception/synchronization and reward
Electrophysiological correlates of motor synchronization to the beat
Beat perception/synchronization and vagal nerve stimulation
Interval coding and beat perception/synchronization in Parkinson’s diseases
Pillar 2: Training auditory-motor skills using new technologies
We assess the effects of training auditory-motor skills on behavior (gait, manual dexterity, speech), cognition, and the associated brain changes using EEG, and functional neuroimaging. For training we use both standard protocols, such as rhythmic auditory cueing, and we devise innovative protocols harnessing mobile technologies, such as musical serious video games and music-based biofeedbacks. Target populations are for example patients with neurogenerative disorders (Parkinson’s disease) and children with neurodevelopemental disorders (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder – ASD). It is expected that individual differences in BPS can allow predicting the success of auditory-motor skill learning across a variety of protocols and conditions.
Rhythm training with serious games in children with ADHD
Rhythm training with serious games in beat deafness
Rhythm training with serious games in autism
Rhythm training with serious games in developmental stuttering