A neuromechanistic model for rhythmic beat generation

Amitabha Bose, Áine Byrne, John Rinzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


When listening to music, humans can easily identify and move to the beat. Numerous experimental studies have identified brain regions that may be involved with beat perception and representation. Several theoretical and algorithmic approaches have been proposed to account for this ability. Related to, but different from the issue of how we perceive a beat, is the question of how we learn to generate and hold a beat. In this paper, we introduce a neuronal framework for a beat generator that is capable of learning isochronous rhythms over a range of frequencies that are relevant to music and speech. Our approach combines ideas from error-correction and entrainment models to investigate the dynamics of how a biophysi-cally-based neuronal network model synchronizes its period and phase to match that of an external stimulus. The model makes novel use of on-going faster gamma rhythms to form a set of discrete clocks that provide estimates, but not exact information, of how well the beat generator spike times match those of a stimulus sequence. The beat generator is endowed with plasticity allowing it to quickly learn and thereby adjust its spike times to achieve synchronization. Our model makes generalizable predictions about the existence of asymme-tries in the synchronization process, as well as specific predictions about resynchronization times after changes in stimulus tempo or phase. Analysis of the model demonstrates that accurate rhythmic time keeping can be achieved over a range of frequencies relevant to music, in a manner that is robust to changes in parameters and to the presence of noise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1006450
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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