Genome-wide association study of musical beat synchronization demonstrates high polygenicity. Journal Article uri icon



  • Moving in synchrony to the beat is a fundamental component of musicality. Here we conducted a genome-wide association study to identify common genetic variants associated with beat synchronization in 606,825 individuals. Beat synchronization exhibited a highly polygenic architecture, with 69 loci reaching genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10-8) and single-nucleotide-polymorphism-based heritability (on the liability scale) of 13%-16%. Heritability was enriched for genes expressed in brain tissues and for fetal and adult brain-specific gene regulatory elements, underscoring the role of central-nervous-system-expressed genes linked to the genetic basis of the trait. We performed validations of the self-report phenotype (through separate experiments) and of the genome-wide association study (polygenic scores for beat synchronization were associated with patients algorithmically classified as musicians in medical records of a separate biobank). Genetic correlations with breathing function, motor function, processing speed and chronotype suggest shared genetic architecture with beat synchronization and provide avenues for new phenotypic and genetic explorations.

publication date

  • September 1, 2022

has subject area

has restriction

  • hybrid

Date in CU Experts

  • April 13, 2023 8:31 AM

Full Author List

  • Niarchou M; Gustavson DE; Sathirapongsasuti JF; Anglada-Tort M; Eising E; Bell E; McArthur E; Straub P; 23andMe Research Team; McAuley JD

author count

  • 18

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2397-3374

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 1292

end page

  • 1309


  • 6


  • 9