Groove Rhythm in Exercise Boosts Brain Function – Neuroscience News

Summary: A new study has found that combining aerobic exercise with groove rhythm (GR) music can significantly improve executive function in the brain.

Conducted on 48 healthy participants aged 18-26, the research revealed that GR exercise not only increased pleasure but also activated the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) more than standard exercise. Participants who felt their bodies reflected GR experienced a heightened sense of excitement and showed improved attention, concentration, and judgment.

This finding is particularly relevant in Japan, where less than 30% of the population exercises regularly, suggesting that GR-enhanced exercise may offer a more enjoyable and beneficial beneficial approach to fitness.

Key Facts:

  1. Exercising to groove to the rhythm of music improves executive function in the prefrontal cortex.
  2. Participants reported increased excitement and resonance of the body to the rhythm during GR exercise.
  3. The study suggests GR-based exercise as a potential tool for improving brain function and making exercise more enjoyable.

Source: University of Tsukuba

Listening to rhythmic music, particularly music with a pronounced groove, produces a heightened sense of arousal, prompting individuals to instinctively move their bodies to the beat. This natural tendency to move to the music is referred to as the groove.

Interestingly, aerobic exercise, even at low-intensity levels, stimulates the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) of the brain, thereby improving executive functions such as attention, concentration, and judgment.

Based on previous research, it was discovered that individuals with a high affinity for groove rhythm (GR) experienced increased executive function in the prefrontal cortex just by listening to GR.

Consequently, the research team explored the potential synergy of combining GR with exercise to enhance the pleasurable and cognitive benefits of physical activity.

In this study, 48 healthy participants aged 18-26 engaged in 3 min of very-light intensity aerobic exercise timed to GR. The results revealed that participants who reported their bodies “sounding to the rhythm” during exercise, along with a subjective sense of “increased excitement,” showed enhanced executive function in the prefrontal cortex and increased activation in the left DLPFC compared to standard very light-intensity exercise. These results are reasonable considering that music preferences vary among individuals.

In Japan, where less than 30% of the population maintains a regular exercise routine, developing inclusive exercise programs is essential. Based on the findings of this research, investigating the effect of groove rhythm-based exercise is expected to introduce “enriched-exercise” as an enjoyable, motivating, and efficient strategy for enhancing brain function.


This work was supported in part by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Grant [16H06405 (HS), 18H04081 (HS), and 18J10631 (TF)]; the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) Grant [JPMJMI19D5 (HS)]; Meiji Yasuda Life Foundation of Health and Welfare Grant (TF), and a grant from the Advanced Research Initiative for Human High Performance (ARIHHP), University of Tsukuba.

About music, exercise, and neuroscience research news

Author: KAMOSHITA Kimio
Source: University of Tsukuba
Please contact: KAMOSHITA Kimio – University of Tsukuba
Image: Image credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: Open access.
“Groove Rhythm Enhances Exercise Effects on Prefrontal Cortex Function in Groove Enjoyers” by SOYA, Hideaki et al. Neuroscience


Groove Rhythm Enhances the Effect of Exercise on Prefrontal Cortex Function in Groove Enjoyers


  • The effects of exercise with groove rhythm (GREX) vary among individuals.
  • GREX enhanced executive function and PFC activity in participants familiar with GrooveEx.
  • Psychological responses predicted the effects of GREX on PFC activity and executive function.
  • Feelings of audiomotor entrainment and excitement in GREX are key factors.


A positive affective response modulates the effects of aerobic exercise on prefrontal executive function (EF). Groove rhythm (GR), which creates a feeling of wanting to move to the music, is useful for inducing a positive response to exercise.

Three minutes of listening to GR activated the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (l-DLPFC) and improved EF in participants with a higher psychological response to GR.

This finding prompted us to test the hypothesis that the combination of GR and exercise (GREX) induces positive psychological responses that enhance PFC function through the entrainment of movements of body and musical beats. 41 participants were administered two experimental conditions: three min of very light intensity (30%VO2 peaks) exercise combined with GR and combined with a white-noise metronome (WMEX).

Before and after exercise, participants performed a Stroop task and were monitored for l-DLPFC activity with functional near-infrared spectroscopy. GREX enhanced EF and l-DLPFC activity in participants who experienced greater subjective feelings of audiomotor entrainment and increased arousal with GREX. These psychological responses predict the effect of GREX on l-DLPFC and EF activity.

These findings, along with previous results, support the hypothesis that GR allows us to amplify the cognitive benefits of exercise through l-DLPFC activity only in groove enjoyers, and suggest that subjective audiomotor entrainment is a key mechanism of this amplification effect.

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