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Music is a curious example of a temporally patterned acoustic stimulus, and a compelling pan-cultural phenomenon. This review strives to bring some insights from decades of music psychology and sensorimotor synchronization (SMS) literature into the mainstream auditory domain, arguing that musical rhythm perception is shaped in important ways by temporal processing mechanisms in the brain. The feature that unites these disparate disciplines is an appreciation of the central importance of timing, sequencing, and anticipation. Perception of musical rhythms relies on an ability to form temporal predictions, a general feature of temporal processing that is equally relevant to auditory scene analysis, pattern detection, and speech perception. By bringing together findings from the music and auditory literature, we hope to inspire researchers to look beyond the conventions of their respective fields and consider the cross-disciplinary implications of studying auditory temporal sequence processing. We begin by highlighting music as an interesting sound stimulus that may provide clues to how temporal patterning in sound drives perception. Next, we review the SMS literature and discuss possible neural substrates for the perception of, and synchronization to, musical beat. We then move away from music to explore the perceptual effects of rhythmic timing in pattern detection, auditory scene analysis, and speech perception. Finally, we review the neurophysiology of general timing processes that may underlie aspects of the perception of rhythmic patterns. We conclude with a brief summary and outlook for future research.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.10.041

Type

Journal article

Journal

Neuroscience

Publication Date

03/11/2017

Keywords

auditory scene analysis, beat perception, music psychology, rhythm perception, sensorimotor synchronization, temporal prediction