Not all imagery is created equal: A functional Magnetic resonance imaging study of internally driven and symbol driven musical performance imagery

Bastepe-Gray S., Acer N. , Gumus K., Gray J., Degirmencioglu L.

Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy, vol.104, 2020 (Journal Indexed in SCI Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 104
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2020.101748
  • Title of Journal : Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy


© 2020Playing a musical instrument requires fast multimodal sensory-motor processing which can be activated by voluntary access to performance imagery. Musicians use different methods to activate imagery for the purpose of “mental practice”. The aim of the present study was to investigate cortical activation patterns in different methods of mental practice of musical performance. While undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), 7 male oud (fretless lute) players engaged in performance imagery of a pre-memorized short excerpt from mainstream oud repertoire using three common imagery methods (task conditions): From memory (internally driven) 1)eyes closed, 2)eyes open, and while following the musical score (symbol driven). The study design consisted of a four-task 16-epoch block design where the 4th task was an eyes-open rest tasks (EOR) included as a control condition. Each task was repeated four times in a pseudorandomized sequence. The superior temporal gyrus and transvers temporal gyrus (Heschl) were active in the left and right hemispheres in all imagery conditions. The occipital cortex, specifically the fusiform gyrus was active in all three conditions. Symbol driven imagery resulted in less prominent activations in frontal and parietal lobes. The findings suggest that not all imagery modalities activate sensory and motor areas similarly.