Principle Investigator (PI)

Prof. Dr. Tom Fritz
Prof. Dr. Tom Fritz
Group leader
Phone: +49 341 9940-2413
Fax: +49 341 9940-2221

Department of Neurology

Music Evoked Brain Plasticity

Motivation (Background):

Neuroscientifically informed music therapy is on the verge of a break through to novel and highly effective forms of social/medical intervention (Altenmüller et al., 2009, Schneider et al., 2007, Sarkamo et al., 2008). A key feature in how this can be achieved is by novel forms of music technology that allow for a newly acquired embodiment of musical actions.

Ideas / Goals:

Our key research hypothesis is that motor training with musical agency (the goal/intention during agency is a modulation of musical sounds) involves motor learning processes that are more beneficial than conventional motor learning (faster, different in quality, easier to recapitulate, longer retention). This is probably a consequence of musical expression drawing partly on motor processes that we also use for communication, which are not exclusively under deliberate control, but to substantial degree involve emotional motor control (Holstege et al., 1996).
The repetitiveness of musical sound structure and its often perceived inherent pleasantness make music the perfect tool to repetitively stimulate newly established associations between bodily movement and acoustic effect.

Research objectives:

  • Measuring the effect of musical agency on motor learning curves.
  • Investigating differences in physiological signatures between motor learning with and without musical agency.
  • Development of new types of music supported rehabilitation and learning technologies.
  • Research with clinical populations testing if the novel musical embodiment technologies for motor learning are transferable to medical rehabilitation.


The research objectives laid out above demand for a variety of research designs and methods:

  • Motor learning curves,
  • Physiological signatures of motor learning (fMRI, PET, PET-fMRI, MEG, EEG)
  • Jymmin’ (exercise training with musical feedback),
  • Spirometry
  • Clinical rehabilitation with patient groups
  • Clinical questionnaires
  • Clinical tests
  • Behavioral experiments

Current Research Projects:

  • Neuroimaging (PET, fMRI) of musically mediated dopaminergic system activity
  • Music enhanced physiotherapy


  • Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music, University of Ghent
  • Department of Nuclear Medicine, University of Leipzig
  • Tagesklinik für Kognitive Neurologie, Universitätsklinik Leipzig
  • Neurologisches Rehabilitationszentrum Leipzig
  • Department of medicine, University of Dresden

Publications of Group:

Journal articles:

Kaller, S., Rullmann, M., Patt, M., Becker, G. A., Luthardt, J., Girbardt, J., et al. (in press). Test-retest measurements of dopamine D1-type receptors using simultaneous PET-MRI scanner. European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

Fritz T, Schneider L, Villringer A. (2016). The Band Effect – physically strenuous music making increases aesthetic appreciation of music. Frontiers in Neuroscience; 10(448)

1 Mueller, K., 1 Fritz, T., 1 Mildner, T., Richter, M., Schulze, K., Lepsien, J., et al. (2015). Investigating the dynamics of the brain response to music: A central role of the ventral striatum/nucleus accumbens. NeuroImage, 116, 68-79. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.05.006.
1 These authors contributed equally

Fritz, T., Vogt, M., Lederer, A., Schneider, L., Fomicheva, E., Schneider, M., et al. (in press). Benefits of listening to a recording of euphoric joint music making in polydrug abusers. Frontiers in Psychology.
Jacobsen, J., Stelzer, J., Fritz, T., Chételat, G., La Joie, R., & Turner, R. (in press). Why musical memory can be preserved in advanced Alzheimer's disease. Brain.

Fritz, T., Steixner, A., Boettger, J., & Villringer, A. (in press). Losing track of time through delayed body representations. Frontiers in Psychology

Fritz T.H., Ciupek M., Kirkland A., Ihme, K., Guha A., Hoyer J., Villringer A. (2014). Enhanced response to music in pregnancy. Psychophysiology, DOI: 10.1111/psyp.12228.

Pehrs, C., Deserno, L., Bakels, J.-H., Schlochtermeier, L. H., Kappelhoff, H., Jacobs, A. M., et al. (2014). How music alters a kiss: Superior temporal gyrus controls fusiform–amygdalar effective connectivity. Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(11), 1770-1778. doi:10.1093/scan/nst169.

Fritz, T. H., Niessen, M., Villringer, A., Leman, M. (2014). Reply to Padulo et al.: Jymmin, an easy-to-implement musical workout approach. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Doi 10.1073/pnas.1400569111.

Fritz, T. H. (2013). The Dock-in Model of Music Culture and Cross-cultural Perception. Music Perception, volume 30, (5), 513–518.

Fritz, T. H., Renders, W., Mueller, K., Schmude, P., Leman, M., Turner, R. & Villringer, A. (2013). Anatomical differences in human inferior colliculus relate to perceived valence of musical consonance and dissonance. European Journal of Neuroscience, European Journal of Neuroscience, Jul 16. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12305.

Koelsch, S., Skouras, S., Fritz, T., Herrera, P., Bonhage, C., Küssner, M., Jacobs, A. (2013). Neural correlates of music-evoked fear and joy: The roles of auditory cortex and superficial amygdala.NeuroImage, volume 81, 49-60.

Fritz, T. H., Schmude, P., Jentschke, S., Friederici, A. D., Koelsch, S. (2013). From understanding to appreciating music cross-culturally. PlosOne, volume 8 (9), e72500.

Pehrs, C., Deserno, L., Bakels, J. H., Schlochtermeier, H., Kappelhoff, H., Jacobs, A. M., Fritz, T. H., Koelsch, S., Kuchinke, L. (2013). How music alters a kiss: superior temporal gyrus controls fusiform-amygdalar effective connectivity. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience doi:10.1093/scan/nst169.

Fritz, T. H., Hardikar, S., Demoucron, M., Niessen, M., Demey, M., Giot, O., Li, Y., Haynes, J., Villringer, A. & Leman, M. (2013). Musical agency reduces perceived exertion during strenuous physical performance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Doi 10.1073/pnas.1217252110.

Fritz, T. H., Halfpaap, J., Grahl, S., Kirkland, A., Villringer, A. (2013). Musical feedback during exercise machine workout enhances mood. Frontiers in Cognitive Science 4:921..

Book chapters:

Fritz T, Schneider L, Villringer A. (2016). The Band Effect – physically strenuous music making increases aesthetic appreciation of music. Frontiers in Neuroscience; 10(448)

Thompson, W, Sun, Y, Fritz, T (in press). Music across cultures.
Foundations in Music Psychology: Theory and Research. Editors Rentfrow, J., Levitin, D., Elsevier.

Fritz, T. (2017) Jymmin – The medical potential of musical euphoria. The Routledge Companion to  embodied  Music  Interaction. Editors  Lesaffre,  M.,  Maes,  PJ,  Leman, M., Taylor  and  Francis group.

Fritz, T. (2016). Musik - eine grenzübergreifende Sprache? In: Musik - ein Spiel mit Grenzen und Entgrenzung. Hofmann, G. (ed.), Forum Musikpädagogik, 131, Wißner Verlag, Augsburg, 9-21.

Fritz, T., Koelsch, S. (2013). Emotional Communication as a cross-species homology underlying music processing. In “Emotional Communication”, Altenmüller, E., Zimmermann, S. (eds.). 300-312.

Uwe Seifert, Paul F. M. J. Verschure, Michael A. Arbib, Annabel J. Cohen, Leonardo Fogassi, Thomas Fritz, Gina Kuperberg, Jônatas Manzolli, and Nikki Rickard (2013). Semantics of Internal and External Worlds. From “Language, Music, and the Brain,” edited by Michael A. Arbib. Strüngmann Forum Reports, vol. 10, J. Lupp, series ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 978-0-262-01810-4.

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