Repetition and a Beat-Based Timing Framework: What Determines the Duration of Intervals Between Repetitions of a Tapping Pattern?

in Timing & Time Perception
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The production of speech and music are two human behaviors that involve complex hierarchical structures with implications for timing. Timing constraints may arise from a human proclivity to form ‘self-organized’ metrical structures for perceived and produced event sequences, especially those that involve repetition. To test whether the propensity to organize events in time arises even for simple motor behaviors, we developed a novel experimental tapping paradigm investigating whether participants use the beat structure of a tapped pattern to determine the interval between repetitions. Participants listened to target patterns of 3, 4, or 5 events, occurring at one of four periodic rates, and tapped out the pattern 11 times, creating 10 inter-pattern intervals (IPIs), which participants chose freely. The ratio between mean IPI and mean inter-tap interval (ITI) was used to measure the beat-relatedness of the overall timing pattern; the closer this ratio is to an integer, the more likely the participant was timing the IPI to match a multiple of the target pattern beat. Results show that a beat-based strategy contributes prominently, although not universally, to IPI duration. Moreover, participants preferred interval cycles with even numbers of beats, especially cycles with four beats. Finally, the IPI/ITI ratio was affected by rate, with more beats of silence for the IPI at faster rates. These findings support the idea that people can generate a larger global timing structure when engaging in the repetition of simple periodic motor patterns, and use that structure to govern the timing of those motor events.

Repetition and a Beat-Based Timing Framework: What Determines the Duration of Intervals Between Repetitions of a Tapping Pattern?

in Timing & Time Perception

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Figures

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    (a) An example of a single trial in a three-click condition. The participant hears the pattern once and then taps it back repeatedly. The stimulus clicks and response taps produced by the participant are both indicated in black, while silent ‘beats’ are indicated in gray. ITI is the inter-tap interval, while IPI is the inter-pattern interval. In this experiment the target ITI was specified by the target stimulus but the IPI was generated by the participant, since the target pattern for each trial was only presented once. Note that this example shows just one possible IPI timing behavior, i.e., one that is not an integer multiple of the beat. See text for further discussion. (b) An example of an IPI/ITI ratio. This is the ratio associated with the illustration in (a).

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    IPI/ITI ratios are shown across all participants, plotted for each unique pattern. Dotted vertical lines indicate integer ratios; solid lines indicate the 2000 ms synchronization limit. Note that the upper limit of the y axis varies across plots, as we are primarily concerned with relative peak heights within each plot.

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    Distribution of individual participants’ percentages of beat-based trials (i.e., trials where the IPI/ITI ratio fell within the threshold of 0.1).

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    Distribution of p-values from binomial proportion tests comparing the proportion of IPIs that adhered to beat-based behavior, to the test proportion 0.20 (i.e., the proportion of IPIs that would fall in the beat-based range if the IPIs were evenly distributed).

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    Cycle length in events (i.e., taps + beats of silence) across all participants and all conditions, plotted with integer bin sizes. Error bars are the standard error of the mean, computed from the mean histogram counts across participants.

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