Interpersonal coordination during musical joint action (e.g., ensemble performance) requires individuals to anticipate and adapt to each other’s action timing. Individuals differ in their ability to both anticipate and adapt, however, little is known about the relationship between these skills. The present study used paced finger tapping tasks to examine the relationship between anticipatory skill and adaptive (error correction) processes. Based on a computational model, it was hypothesized that temporal anticipation and adaptation will act together to facilitate synchronization accuracy and precision. Adaptive ability was measured as the degree of temporal error correction that participants (N = 52) engaged in when synchronizing with a ‘virtual partner’, that is, an auditory pacing signal that modulated its timing based on the participant’s performance. Anticipation was measured through a prediction index that reflected the degree to which participants’ inter-tap intervals led or lagged behind inter-onset intervals in tempo-changing sequences. A correlational analysis revealed a significant positive relationship between the prediction index and temporal error correction estimates, suggesting that anticipation and adaptation interact to facilitate synchronization performance. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that adaptation was the best predictor of synchronization accuracy, whereas both adaptation and anticipation predicted synchronization precision. Together these results demonstrate a relationship between anticipatory and adaptive mechanisms, and indicate that individual differences in these two abilities are predictive of synchronization performance.
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