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<p>Rhythm is a core musical element strictly interconnected with movement. Rhythmic music-therapy techniques exploit rhythmic auditory cues as a tool to improve motor functions in patients with motor disorders. Functional Near-InfraRed Spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a promising, non-invasive, and portable optical neuroimaging technique that can be used to monitor brain activity in tasks involving participants’ movements. However, the potential of this instrument for studying the effect of music on the brain is still largely unexplored. In this study, we investigated the influence of rhythm and harmony on movement facilitation in young healthy participants (N=34), whilst recording their brain activity with a 44-channel fNIRS system. Motor and temporal cortical areas were monitored while participants hit two drum pads alternating their right and left arm movements under different learning conditions and auditory feedbacks. The results showed an improvement of participants’ precision in beat maintenance and a reduction of brain activity, primarily in the premotor areas, along with the training. Furthermore, we found that the higher the behavioural improvement in beat timing between the pre- and post-training blocks, the greater the decrease in hemodynamic response in the post-central gyrus motor area. These findings indicate that a short rhythmic-harmonic training could induce a facilitation in the premotor areas, which could be responsible of the improvement in the precision of beat maintenance. This work opens new perspectives for the application of rhythmic-harmonic training in music-based rehabilitation paradigms and suggest fNIRS as a suitable method for the study of music and movement.</p>
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