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Volume 9, Pages 1415-1422
Mini-Review Article

Mirror-Like Mechanisms and Music

DSBTA - Section of Human Physiology, University of Ferrara, Italy

Received 14 September 2009; Revised 26 November 2009; Accepted 2 December 2009

Academic Editor: Sergi Ferre

Copyright © 2009 Alessandro¬†D'Ausilio.


The neural processes underlying sensory-motor integration have always attracted strong interest. The classic view is that action and perception are two extremes of mental operations. In the past 2 decades, though, a large number of discoveries have indeed refuted such an interpretation in favor of a more integrated view. Specifically, the discovery of mirror neurons in monkey premotor cortex is a rather strong demonstration that sensory and motor processes share the same neural substrates. In fact, these cells show complex sensory-motor properties, such that observed, heard, or executed goal-directed actions could equally activate these neurons. On the other hand, the neuroscience of music has similarly emerged as an active and productive field of research. In fact, music-related behaviors are a useful model of action-perception mechanisms and how they develop through training. More recently, these two lines of research have begun to intersect into a novel branch of research. As a consequence, it has been proposed recently that mirror-like mechanisms might be at the basis of human music perception-production abilities. The scope of the present short review is to set the scientific background for mirror-like mechanisms in music by examining recent published data.