Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 200, Issue 3–4, pp 277–282 | Cite as

Combining multisensory temporal information for movement synchronisation

  • Alan M. WingEmail author
  • Michail Doumas
  • Andrew E. Welchman
Research Note


The ability to synchronise actions with environmental events is a fundamental skill supporting a variety of group activities. In such situations, multiple sensory cues are usually available for synchronisation, yet previous studies have suggested that auditory cues dominate those from other modalities. We examine the control of rhythmic action on the basis of auditory and haptic cues and show that performance is sensitive to both sources of information for synchronisation. Participants were required to tap the dominant hand index finger in synchrony with a metronome defined by periodic auditory tones, imposed movements of the non-dominant index finger, or both cues together. Synchronisation was least variable with the bimodal metronome as predicted by a maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) model. However, increases in timing variability of the auditory cue resulted in some departures from the MLE model. Our findings indicate the need for further investigation of the MLE account of the integration of multisensory signals in the temporal control of action.


Movement timing Action Synchronisation Multisensory Cue combination Haptic auditory 



This work was supported by the Medical Research Council (grant no. G9901257) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (grant nos C520620 and E0095651). MD is a postdoctoral fellow of the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO) Flanders. We thank Nick Roach for assistance in setting up the haptic stimulus apparatus.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan M. Wing
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michail Doumas
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andrew E. Welchman
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioural Brain Sciences Centre, School of PsychologyUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyK. U. LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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