Description: Human behaviour is inherently multimodal and sensory-motor: we use perceptual and motor brain systems cooperatively, combining multimodal input for a multimodal output. This is evident when pianists exhibit activity in motor and premotor cortices while listening to a piece of music they know well. Here we investigated the interaction between multimodal learning and the "dorsal stream" pathway in a naturalistic setting. We presented 10 skilled pianists with audio, video and audiovideo recordings of piano Sonata K. 98 by D. Scarlatti during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after they learned to play the sonata by heart for 4 weeks. We examined the similarity of different pianists' brain activity during stimulus presentations before and after learning by means of inter-subject correlation (ISC) analysis. When presented with the audiovisual recording after learning, the pianists showed similarity in the dorsal stream and in limbic areas. We also found a correlation between strong motivation to learn the piece and activity similarity in the striatum and the dorsal stream. Moreover, the best performers were characterized by strongly similar recruitment of motor areas. These findings suggest that learning a complex and demanding natural auditory-motor program relies on common dorsal stream areas .
Related article: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2020.06.015
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