Pianists often report that pure listening to a well-trained piece of music can involuntarily trigger the respective finger movements. We designed a magnetoencephalography (MEG) experiment to compare the motor activation in pianists and nonpianists while listening to piano pieces. For pianists, we found a statistically significant increase of activity above the region of the contralateral motor cortex. Brain surface current density (BSCD) reconstructions revealed a spatial dissociation of this activity between notes preferably played by the thumb and the little finger according to the motor homunculus. Hence, we could demonstrate that pianists, when listening to well-trained piano music, exhibit involuntary motor activity involving the contralateral primary motor cortex (M1).

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