Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 339-346

First online:

Long-range correlation properties in motor timing are individual and task specific

  • Kjerstin TorreAffiliated withMovement to Health (M2H), Montpellier-1 University EuroMovSensorimotor Neuroscience Laboratory, McMaster University Email author 
  • , Ramesh BalasubramaniamAffiliated withSensorimotor Neuroscience Laboratory, McMaster University
  • , Nicole RheaumeAffiliated withDepartment of Health and Kinesiology, Purdue University
  • , Loic LemoineAffiliated withMovement to Health (M2H), Montpellier-1 University EuroMov
  • , Howard N. ZelaznikAffiliated withDepartment of Health and Kinesiology, Purdue University


1/f β noise represents a specific form of (long-range) correlations in a time series that is pervasive across many sensorimotor variables. Recent studies have shown that the precise properties of the correlations demonstrated by a group of test participants may vary as a function of experimental conditions or factors characterizing the group. Our purpose in the present study was to clarify whether long-range correlations affect sensorimotor performance generally or in a task-specific manner and whether each individual produces characteristic long-range correlations that are reliable across several runs of the same task. We analyzed the series of time intervals produced by 43 participants in two timing tasks: unimanual rhythmic tapping and circle drawing. We found that a participant’s 1/f β properties in tapping were not related to the 1/f β properties in circle drawing. However, within each task, individual differences were reliable, and a Cronbach’s alpha of .59 showed a high degree of within-subjects reproducibility of the long-range correlations. Thus, long-range correlations represent a consistent and distinctive characteristic of individuals performing a particular task, rather than a ubiquitous generic property of sensorimotor time series. The implications of these results are discussed from both a theoretical and a methodological perspective.


1/f noise Individual characteristic Reproducibility Serial long-range correlation Timing