The Musician Redefined: A Behavioral Assessment of Rhythm Perception in Professional Club DJs
Timing and Time Perception
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Studies of musical training demonstrate functional advantages in rhythm tasks that result from enriched auditory experience. Anatomical correlates exist in brain areas involved in auditory perception, speech processing, motor control, attention, and emotion. However, these studies fail to include many classes of musicians that might undergo experience-related change. The current study examined rhythm processing in professional disc jockeys (DJs) who routinely engage in temporally-demanding tasks during practice and performance. In Experiment 1, DJs outperformed controls at detecting a deviation in a rhythmic pattern, and were no different than trained percussionists. In Experiment 2, participants receiving one week of DJ training trended toward outperforming untrained participants on this same measure. Across experiments, movement improved detection of rhythmic deviations, providing evidence of privileged auditory-motor connections, and underscoring the importance of motor areas to rhythm perception. It is clear that DJs show experience-dependent changes in perception that are comparable to more traditional musicians.