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Journal Article

fNIRS responses in professional violinists while playing duets: Evidence for distinct leader and follower roles at the brain level


Sammler,  Daniela
Otto Hahn Group Neural Bases of Intonation in Speech, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Vanzella, P., Balardin, J. B., Furucho, R. A., Morais, G. A. Z., Braun-Janzen, T., Sammler, D., et al. (2019). fNIRS responses in professional violinists while playing duets: Evidence for distinct leader and follower roles at the brain level. Frontiers in Psychology, 10: 164. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00164.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-EEDD-A
Music played in ensembles is a naturalistic model to study joint action and leader-follower relationships. Recently, the investigation of the brain underpinnings of joint musical actions has gained attention; however, the cerebral correlates underlying the roles of leader and follower in music performance remain elusive. The present study addressed this question by simultaneously measuring the hemodynamic correlates of functional neural activity elicited during naturalistic violin duet performance using fNIRS. Findings revealed distinct patterns of functional brain activation when musicians played the Violin 2 (follower) than the Violin 1 part (leader) in duets, both compared to solo performance. More specifically, results indicated that musicians playing the Violin 2 part had greater oxy-Hb activation in temporo-parietal (p = 0.02) and somatomotor (p = 0.04) regions during the duo condition in relation to the solo. On the other hand, there were no significant differences in the activation of these areas between duo/solo conditions during the execution of the Violin 1 part (p’s > 0.05). These findings suggest that ensemble cohesion during a musical performance may impose particular demands when musicians play the follower position, especially in brain areas associated with the processing of dynamic social information and motor simulation. This study is the first to use fNIRS hyperscanning technology to simultaneously measure the brain activity of two musicians during naturalistic music ensemble performance, opening new avenues for the investigation of brain correlates underlying joint musical actions with multiple subjects in a naturalistic environment.