The subdivision benefit refers to an improvement in tapping accuracy when an isochronous beat is divided into equal intervals. However, it remains unclear if the subdivision benefit (i) is an emergent property of the neural system, (ii) depends on the kind of subdivision, and (iii) relates to formal training in music. We assessed the EEG responses of 31 participants (16 musicians) in the frequency domain while they repeatedly listened to an isochronous beat, a particular subdivision of this beat (duplet, triplet, quadruplet or quintuplet), the beat again, and the same subdivisions while tapping to their underlying beat. We found that the neural entrainment to the beat and its 1st harmonic is increased during listening across all subdivisions, indicating a general tendency to reinforce the beat, perhaps to minimize complexity towards a 1:2 ratio. Behavioral responses revealed that tapping was less consistent and precise for quintuplets than for the other subdivisions. In addition, musically-trained participants tapped more consistently than musically-naïve participants for all subdivisions. Finally, tapping enhanced the neural entrainment to beat-related frequencies, yet with greater amplitudes in musicians. Together, these results suggest that subdivisions enhance neural synchronization to the frequencies of the beat and its 1st harmonic ("duplet"-related), and that formal training in music enhances both the tapping to the beat and the corresponding neural entrainment.
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