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Music Enhances Control in Adults With PD

October 16, 2019

In people with Parkinson disease, moving to music rather than metronomes better supported entrainment and control, according to a study published online in the journal Parkinson’s Disease.

“These findings provide possibilities for direct application to therapeutic approaches for motor rehabilitation to help people with Parkinson’s learn to use alternative strategies,” researchers wrote. “As such, learning to entrain to an inner jukebox of tunes may help people with Parkinson’s learn to manage movement better and therefore reduce the risks of falls.”

The study compared the effect of music cues and metronome cues on entrainment (the ability of the motor system to work with auditory system to drive movement), synchronization, and pace stability in 30 adults with Parkinson disease as well as 26 older adults and 36 young adults who served as controls. Finger tapping, toe tapping, and stepping-on-the-spot tasks were included in the study. 

In fast and medium tempi, music outperformed metronomes for supporting entrainment, researchers found. Compared with finger and toe tapping, stepping on the spot enabled better entrainment, less asynchrony, and more stable pacing.  

Results indicated no motor timing differences between participants with and without Parkinson’s disease. 

“We suggest that when using the body to produce timed sequences of action (herein operationalized as stepping on the spot rather than finger or toe tapping), people with Parkinson’s can reach performance levels as accurately and with as much stability as those observed in healthy individuals,” researchers wrote. “This is especially true when using music as the pacing cue.” 

Jolynn Tumolo


Rose D, Delevoye-Turrell Y, Ott L, Annett LE, Lovatt PJ. Music and metronomes differentially impact motor timing in people with and without Parkinson's disease: effects of slow, medium, and fast tempi on entrainment and synchronization performances in finger tapping, toe tapping, and stepping on the spot tasks [published online August 18, 2019]. Parkinsons Dis. 2019 August 18;2019:6530838. doi: 10.1155/2019/6530838

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