Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

We've Got Rhythm: Research Into Finger-Tapping Reveals How A Presumed Internal Mechanism Guides Motor Actions, Helping Us Respond To Subliminal Changes In Stimuli

Date:
June 22, 2001
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
Keeping up with the beat: People are quite good at it, even when the timing changes at a nearly imperceptible level. Using the well-known experimental procedure of finger-tapping to an auditory beat, researcher Bruno Repp of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Conn. observed that people correctly adjusted their tapping when the beat changed in a barely detectable manner, suggesting that an internal mechanism automatically guides motor actions in response to stimuli that change without our even being aware of it.

WASHINGTON - Keeping up with the beat: People are quite good at it, even when the timing changes at a nearly imperceptible level. Using the well-known experimental procedure of finger-tapping to an auditory beat, researcher Bruno Repp of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Conn. observed that people correctly adjusted their tapping when the beat changed in a barely detectable manner, suggesting that an internal mechanism automatically guides motor actions in response to stimuli that change without our even being aware of it. This finding is reported in the June issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Related Articles


Repp studied how eight people adjusted their tapping in response to 1-2 percent changes (which are very difficult to detect, and therefore considered subliminal) in a series of pulsing tones from a digital piano. Subjects tapped a key on a silent piano keyboard in or out of synchrony with the tones, as instructed, and made successful adjustments -- a process called "phase correction" -- in response to subliminal timing changes. They had not been warned that the timing might change; thus subjects stayed with the beat, even without a conscious perception of change. Thus, Repp concludes that the agent guiding corrections of this motor behavior is a brain mechanism that responds to stimulus changes below the perceptual threshold.

Repp's series of five experiments, which included various tapping instructions and pulse-change types to assess aspects of sensorimotor coordination, confirmed and extended previous research in this area. The experiments tested phase correction, the timing adjustment of a repetitive motor activity to maintain synchrony or some other intended temporal relation with an external sequence of events, and also phase resetting, a more dramatic timing adjustment that immediately restores synchrony after a large synchronization error.

Repp's findings are consistent with a theoretical two-process model of error correction -- the brain perceives as an error any deviation from the intended temporal relationship between tap and beat -- that depends on internal abilities to correct both the period (interval) and phase (time of occurrence) of a beat. Repp found that subjects adjusted their tapping whether they were instructed to go with or against (syncopating) the beat. An internal "timekeeper" is thought to govern the actual rate, or rhythm, of tapping; Repp investigated an additional mechanism that can make temporal adjustments without affecting the rate of the timekeeper.

According to Repp's findings, then, the brain at some level is much more sensitive to timing information than the results of previous psychophysical experiments suggest. This very precise timing information seems to be used in the control of actions, without awareness.

Article: "Phase Correction, Phase Resetting, and Phase Shifts After Subliminal Timing Perturbations in Sensorimotor Synchronization," Bruno H. Repp, Haskins Laboratories; Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 2001, Vol. 27, No. 3.

Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office and after June 13 at http://www.apa.org/journals/xhp/xhp273600.html

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 155,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 53 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association. "We've Got Rhythm: Research Into Finger-Tapping Reveals How A Presumed Internal Mechanism Guides Motor Actions, Helping Us Respond To Subliminal Changes In Stimuli." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010605074700.htm>.
American Psychological Association. (2001, June 22). We've Got Rhythm: Research Into Finger-Tapping Reveals How A Presumed Internal Mechanism Guides Motor Actions, Helping Us Respond To Subliminal Changes In Stimuli. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010605074700.htm
American Psychological Association. "We've Got Rhythm: Research Into Finger-Tapping Reveals How A Presumed Internal Mechanism Guides Motor Actions, Helping Us Respond To Subliminal Changes In Stimuli." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010605074700.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) — The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is studying the popular Music and Memory program to see if music, which helps improve the mood of Alzheimer's patients, can also reduce the use of prescription drugs for those suffering from dementia. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) — Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) — Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

AFP (Oct. 27, 2014) — Coding has become compulsory for children as young as five in schools across the UK. Making it the first major world economy to overhaul its IT teaching and put programming at its core. Duration: 02:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins