Movement Enhances Perceived Timing in the Absence of Auditory Feedback

in Timing & Time Perception
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Moving (tapping) to a beat can objectively improve the perception of timing. Here we examine whether auditory feedback from tapping is a requirement for this improvement. In this experiment, two groups of participants heard a series of isochronous beats, and identified whether a probe tone after a short silence was consistent with the timing of the preceding sequence. On half of the trials, participants tapped along on an electronic drum pad up to and including the probe tone, and on half of the trials they listened without tapping. In the auditory feedback (AF) group sounds from tapping were available to participants and in the no auditory feedback (NAF) group these sounds were masked using white noise. In both groups, movement improved timing judgments of the probe tone, however this improvement was more pronounced when auditory feedback was present. Additionally, tapping was more accurate when auditory feedback was available. While previously we demonstrated an effect of movement on perceived timing, here we clarify that movement alone is sufficient to trigger this improvement (independent of the movement’s auditory consequences). We identify the importance of auditory feedback as a cue for movement timing, which subsequently affects perceived timing of an external stimulus. Additionally we have demonstrated that movement alone can improve timing perception, independent of the auditory feedback caused by this movement.

Movement Enhances Perceived Timing in the Absence of Auditory Feedback

in Timing & Time Perception



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    Circles represent accented tones while squares represent unaccented tones. The lines represent silent ‘beats’ and the unfilled circles depict possible probe tone positions. Trial segments are labelled.

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    The effect of movement (movement–no-movement task score) on probe tone timing judgments for auditory feedback (AF) and no auditory feedback (NAF) groups. Error bars represent the standard error of the mean.

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    The coefficient of variation (a) and tap asynchronies (b) plotted for AF and NAF groups. Error bars represent the standard error of the mean.


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