INDRA Rhythm as an individual ability

The project’s goal is understanding individual variations in rhythmic abilities.

Drums, and the hands of a drummer holding drumsticks. Photo.

Photo by Michael M on Unsplash

Variation in rhythm ability is important

Our ability to reproduce and generate a rhythm is a central factor for interactions in our physical world, our culture and, possibly, for our wellbeing. Moreover, rhythmic abilities can be of importance for communication skills and language development.

This is a rather new research area and only a few instruments exist to measure how we individually vary in rhythmic abilities. At the same time, the existing tests are limited both in relation to different aspects of rhythm and to fundamental cognitive abilities associated with rhythm.

In this project, we develop a test battery to cover a broad area of the perception and production of rhythm, from meter and beat perception to microtiming. We also develop tests for cognitive functions related to rhythm, like time perception and estimation, working memory capacity and cognitive control functions. In addition, personal factors related to the emotional experience of musical rhythm, exposure to musical expressions, and heritability versus the role of the environment in the acquisition of rhythmic abilities are investigated.

The figure illustrates the relationship between different structural levels of in music and the test battery. Illustration.
The figure illustrates the relationship between different structural levels of in music and the test battery

Methodology and program goals

We utilize a broad methodological approach including psychometrics, behavioral experiments, large online surveys, eye tracking and pupillometry, EEG, fMRI and genetics to investigate the factors behind rhythm abilities and their individual components. We aim for:

  • The development of a test battery based on psychometric principles to investigate timed cognition and rhythmic abilities.
  • Usage of establish tests of cognitive functions
  • The inclusion and comparison of established tests of musical experience and emotional music perception and the preferential use of music listening (e.g., to promote wellbeing)
  • Implementation of critical parts of the test program in a Twin study

The main goal is to understand individual variations in rhythmic abilities and how they relate to cognition and heritability.


Published Apr. 12, 2021 3:14 PM - Last modified Sep. 28, 2022 1:32 PM