Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Neuroscience

Supervisor

Dr. Jessica Grahn

Abstract

Impaired discrimination of sequences with a ‘beat’ in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) suggests the basal ganglia are responsible for the perception, or ‘internal generation’ of the beat in addition to motor timing. As a first step, we examined how young healthy participants performed on tests assessing perception, internal generation, and motor production of the beat to determine if a common mechanism guides all three processes and how this mechanism affects timing. The results suggest that perception, internal generation and production are controlled by a common timing mechanism. In general, a strong perception of the beat was associated with good synchronization accuracy (tapping and walking) and timing accuracy. Thus, previous findings of impaired beat processing in PD patients may result from deficient beat perception, in addition to or in lieu of deficient motor timing. Future studies with PD patients are needed to better understand the role of the basal ganglia in beat processing.


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