Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Psychological Science


Psychological Science (MS)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Mounia Ziat


Do musicians imagine movements differently? Are instrument-specific movements represented differently in the brain? The current study explores the perceptual differences in imagining music and movements. While attached to a near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) device, violinists and pianists of diverse experience levels viewed a series of performance videos (piano, violin) and performed associated imagery tasks. It was hypothesized that musicians will show diverse levels of brain activity in the motor areas during imagery tasks, depending on their primary instrument and the movements within their repertoire. Results revealed that violinists and pianists significantly differ in imagining movements and music of their non-primary instrument. Violinists, in particular, found it difficult to imagine the piano music and the combination of piano movements and music, while they found ease in imagining piano movements alone. This suggests that the piano music suppresses the violinists’ ability to imagine the piano movements and music together. Interestingly, this pattern was not present in the pianists, who easily imagined the movements and music of the violin. This further confirms that pianists and violinists imagine movements and music quite differently. The results from this study can be used to further investigate neural differences among musicians of various instruments, confirm the advantages of using near infrared spectroscopy techniques for music perception studies, and explore how people perceive music and movements differently.

Access Type

Open Access