Sensorimotor Synchronization In Auditory, Visual, And Interpersonal Contexts

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This dissertation uses finger tapping to explore sensorimotor synchronization (SMS) in auditory (Chapter 2), visual (Chapter 3), and interpersonal (Chapter 4) contexts. The experiments presented here provide evidence for shared representations for perception and action codes. Chapter 1 reviews theoretical background relevant to SMS and perception-action links, and offers an overview of the present work and future directions. Musical ensemble performance requires synchronizing with sequences of chords containing multiple tones with multiple onsets. Chapter 2 investigates whether sensorimotor synchronization with chord sequences containing tone-onset asynchronies is affected by the magnitude of these asynchronies (25, 30, or 50 ms) and the pitch of the leading tone (high vs. low). Results indicate that tap timing was determined by a chord's subjective onset or perceptual center, and that lower pitch tones were especially influential for tap timing. Additionally, chords with nonsimultaneous onsets increased tapping variability for non-musicians, but decreased variability for musicians. Chapter 3 examines visuomotor synchronization. Prior research indicates that synchronized tapping performance is very poor with flashing visual stimuli compared with auditory stimuli. This observed difference may reflect a general auditory advantage for processing temporal information, while visual processing may have an advantage with spatial information. Three finger-tapping experiments compared flashing and fading visual metronomes with visual metronomes containing a spatial component, either compatible, incompatible, or orthogonal to the tapping action. Results indicate that visuomotor synchronization improves dramatically with compatible spatial information (translation over time). However, an auditory advantage in sensorimotor synchronization persists. Chapter 4 examines interpersonal synchronization. The tendency to mimic and synchronize with others is well established. Although mimicry has been shown to lead to affiliation between co-actors, the effect of interpersonal synchrony on affiliation remains an open question. Participants matched finger movements with a visual moving metronome, while an experimenter either a) tapped to a metronome that was synchronous to the participant's metronome, b) tapped to a metronome that was asynchronous, or c) did not tap. As hypothesized the degree of synchrony predicted subsequent affiliation ratings. A control experiment found that the affiliative effects were unique to interpersonal synchrony.

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