Brain Entrain: Acoustic Features of Music that Drive You to Synch


  • Gabriel A Nespoli Ryerson University
  • Sean Gilmore <p>Ryerson University</p>
  • Frank A Russo Ryerson University


Tapping along with a metronome or the beat of music is a relatively easy task. Certain acoustic features of music have been found to support this behavioural synchronization. For example, lower frequency content has been found to be related to higher tapping velocity and lower tapping variability (Stupacher, Hove, & Janata, 2016). Neurons will also entrain their firing to the beat of music, but it is unknown whether those same acoustic features that support behavioural synchronization will also support neural entrainment. The current study seeks to investigate which acoustic features of music support the entrainment of neurons that are related to behavioural synchronization, such as those in premotor areas of the brain. In a previous study, participants listened to music while EEG was measured from the surface of the scalp. Independent components analysis was used to identify sources of activity in auditory and premotor areas of the brain. In a post-hoc analysis, certain acoustic features of the music were found to correlate with neural entrainment. Specifically, tempo and RMS were found to correlate with entrainment of premotor areas, whereas low energy rate (the proportion of the signal below the average energy) and spectral centroid were found to correlate with beta-band phase coherence of auditory and premotor areas. In a second [pilot] study, a stimulus set was created to specifically investigate these features and their ability to entrain neurons in premotor areas of the brain.

Author Biographies

Gabriel A Nespoli, Ryerson University

Ph.D. CandidateDepartment of Psychology

Sean Gilmore, <p>Ryerson University</p>

M.A. StudentDepartment of Psychology

Frank A Russo, Ryerson University

ProfessorDepartment of Psychology



How to Cite

Nespoli GA, Gilmore S, Russo FA. Brain Entrain: Acoustic Features of Music that Drive You to Synch. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 2017 Aug. 26 [cited 2021 Dec. 3];45(3). Available from:



Proceedings of the Acoustics Week in Canada