Rhythmic Priming Across Effector Systems: A Randomized Controlled Trial with Parkinson’s Disease Patients

Researchers from the Music and Health Science Research Collaboratory at the University of Toronto and the Center for Biomedical Research in Music at Colorado State University investigated effects of rhythmic priming, or preparation of a primary task with presentation of a separate, prior rhythmic task, on the gait of patients with Parkinson’s disease. Challenges with atypical gait, or manner of walking, including reduced speed, is a primary symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Building on prior neuroscience research that has shown rhythm to have a powerful impact on motor control, Janzen et al. (2019) had 11 individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease independently tap fingers along to a provided steady beat for 3 minutes. Tempo, or speed, of the beat presented to each individual was 20% faster than the individual’s current walking speed, measured prior to the task. Outcome measures showed that after participating in the finger tapping task, walking speed of participants was significantly increased.


Janzen, T. B., Haase, M., & Thaut, M., H. (2019). Rhythmic priming across effector systems: A randomized controlled trial with Parkinson’s disease patients. Human Movement Science, 64, 355-365. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2019.03.001