New preprint on BioRxiv: is beat perception special?

F.L. Bouwer, H. Honing, & H.A. Slagter (2019). Beat-based and memory-based temporal expectations in rhythm: similar perceptual effects, different underlying mechanisms

Predicting the timing of incoming information allows the brain to optimize information processing in dynamic environments. Behaviorally, temporal expectations have been shown to facilitate processing of events at expected time points, such as sounds that coincide with the beat in musical rhythm. Yet, temporal expectations can develop based on different forms of structure in the environment, not just the regularity afforded by a musical beat. Little is still known about how different types of temporal expectations are neurally implemented and affect performance. Here, we orthogonally manipulated the periodicity and predictability of rhythmic sequences to examine the mechanisms underlying beat-based and memory-based temporal expectations, respectively.


Paper on beat perception in monkeys accepted in Frontiers in Neuroscience

Honing, H., Bouwer, F.L., Prado, L., & Merchant, H. (2018). Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta) Sense Isochrony in Rhythm, but Not the Beat: Additional Support for the Gradual Audiomotor Evolution Hypothesis

Charles Darwin suggested the perception of rhythm to be common to all animals. While only recently experimental research is finding some support for this claim, there are also aspects of rhythm cognition that appear to be species-specific, such as the capability to perceive a regular pulse (or beat) in a varying rhythm. In the current study, using EEG, we adapted an auditory oddball paradigm that allows for disentangling the contributions of beat perception and isochrony to the temporal predictability of the stimulus. We presented two rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) with a rhythmic sequence in two versions: an isochronous version, that was acoustically accented such that it could induce a duple meter (like a march), and a jittered version using the same acoustically accented sequence but that was presented in a randomly timed fashion, as such disabling beat induction.


Paper on syntax in music and language accepted in Frontiers in Psychology

M.P. Roncaglia-Denissen, F.L. Bouwer, & H. Honing (2018). Decision Making Strategy and the Simultaneous Processing of Syntactic Dependencies in Language and Music

Despite differences in their function and domain-specific elements, syntactic processing in music and language is believed to share cognitive resources. This study aims to investigate whether the simultaneous processing of language and music share the use of a common syntactic processor or more general attentional resources. To investigate this matter we tested musicians and non-musicians using visually presented sentences and aurally presented melodies containing syntactic local and long-distance dependencies. Accuracy rates and reaction times of participants’ responses were collected.


Paper on rhythmic complexity accepted in PLoS ONE

F.L. Bouwer, J.A. Burgoyne, D. Odijk, H. Honing, & J.A. Grahn (2018). What makes a rhythm complex? The influence of musical training and accent type on beat perception

Perception of a regular beat in music is inferred from different types of accents. For example, increases in loudness cause intensity accents, and the grouping of time intervals in a rhythm creates temporal accents. Accents are expected to occur on the beat: when accents are “missing” on the beat, the beat is more difficult to find. However, it is unclear whether accents occurring off the beat alter beat perception similarly to missing accents on the beat. Moreover, no one has examined whether intensity accents influence beat perception more or less strongly than temporal accents, nor how musical expertise affects sensitivity to each type of accent. In two experiments, we obtained ratings of difficulty in finding the beat in rhythms with either temporal or intensity accents, and which varied in the number of accents on the beat as well as the number of accents off the beat.


Travel grant awarded by the Landelijk Netwerk Vrouwelijke Hoogleraren

I am very happy to report that I am one of 4 recipients of the Distinguished Women Scientists Fund, awarded by the Landelijk Netwerk Vrouwelijke Hoogleraren (Dutch network of women professors). The DWSF is a travel grant, and will allow me to examine rhythm perception in patients with Parkinson’s disease in collaboration with Dr. Jessica Grahn. I am very excited to start this new line of research!

Presenting at SMART and NVP

I will be presenting at both the the SMART Cognitive Science Conference and the bi-annual conference of the NVP this month.

At SMART, I will present behavioural data from several tests that assess beat perception abilities during the Musicality Phenotype workshop.

At NVP, I will present EEG data looking at the difference between beat-based and memory-based expectations in musical rhythm.