RITMO Seminar: Rhythm, Tempo, and the Brain: fMRI studies in Bergen (Karsten Specht)

Karsten Specht (University of Bergen) will lecture on Rhythm, Tempo, and the Brain: fMRI studies in Bergen


Music listening is a complex brain process. It doesn’t only involve the auditory system, but it also activates brain networks that are primarily related to motor planning, emotion regulation, memory, social cognition, and reward Processing.

One example in this spectrum of music-triggered brain responses is the well-known phenomenon that rhythmic music easily triggers synchronised movements. Neuroanatomically, rhythmic music instantaneously causes strong responses in a brain network, called "basal ganglia", which is a network deep in the brain that is primarily involved in motor control, but which is also strongly interconnected with other systems, like the reward system. Interestingly, the involvement of the basal ganglia in rhythm processing has also a clinical benefit for patients with Parkinson’s disease, and how they perceive the complexity of rhythms.

Besides that, music easily generates other brain and physiological responses. The tempo of music may not only influence the heart rate, but also the emotional valence of how we perceive the music and how we associate it in a social context. Typical examples for the latter are the soundtracks in movies that are aimed to reflect and to support the content of the visual scene. Interestingly, when the emotional valence of the music clashes with the content of a movie scene, brain areas that are typically involved in social cognition strongly respond to those mismatches.

In this lecture, Karsten Specth will present examples from recent and ongoing neuroimaging studies that explored these different aspects of music processing with a focus on rhythm and tempo.

Short BiographyKarsten Specht

Prof. Karsten Specht is the head of the Bergen Research Group on Auditory Perception (BeRG-AP) and since 2017 of the Bergen fMRI group. His research focuses on all aspects of auditory perception, ranging from basic auditory processes to speech perception and the processing of music. Prof. Specht explores the underlying brain processes with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), by exploring not only healthy subjects but also patients with neurological disorders such as stroke, Parkinson’s disorder, or traumatic brain injuries. Karsten Specht studied physics at the RWTH-Aachen, Germany, and did his PhD in cognitive neuroscience 2003 in Magdeburg, Germany, where he also got his Habilitation in 2012. Among others, he worked at the University Hospital in Aachen, Germany, and at the Research Centre in Jülich, Germany. He moved to Bergen in 2004, where he got his professorship in 2012.




Published Aug. 15, 2018 10:27 AM - Last modified Mar. 26, 2020 4:18 PM