Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 12, pp 3341–3350 | Cite as

Single (1:1) vs. double (1:2) metronomes for the spontaneous entrainment and stabilisation of human rhythmic movements

  • Manuel Varlet
  • Rohan Williams
  • Cécile Bouvet
  • Peter E. Keller
Research Article


Rhythmic movements produced by humans become spontaneously entrained to auditory rhythms in the environment. Evidence suggests that synchronisation to external auditory rhythms can contribute to the stabilisation of movements in time and space, opening new perspectives for motor training and rehabilitation. Here we compared the effects of single (1:1) and double (1:2) metronomes (i.e., one or two stimulations per preferred movement cycle) on spontaneous movement entrainment and stabilisation. We examined the spontaneous entrainment of self-paced hand-held pendulum swinging when single or double metronomes were presented either at the participant’s preferred tempo or slightly slower or faster (± 10%). The results showed that participants’ movements spontaneously entrained to auditory rhythms, and that the strength of this entrainment was the same for single and double metronomes. However, double metronomes decreased movement tempo stability, whereas single metronomes increased movement tempo stability compared to a control condition without a stimulus. These effects preferentially occurred for metronomes presented at participants’ preferred movement tempi and especially for participants whose movements were intrinsically more variable. Participants’ movement amplitude stability was also modulated in such a way that the stability of participants who were intrinsically less stable increased, whereas the stability of intrinsically more stable participants decreased with auditory rhythms, an effect that was stronger with double than single metronomes. Moreover, movement stabilisation in time and space were positively correlated, suggesting that tempo and amplitude stabilisation depend on similar processes and may be complementary. These findings provide new insight into the processes underlying auditory-motor entrainment and how auditory rhythms can be used to improve movement stability in time and space.


Entrainment Synchronisation Movement Variability Metronome 



This work was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery project (DP170104322) and an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship grant awarded to P.K. (FT140101162).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and DevelopmentWestern Sydney UniversityPenrithAustralia
  2. 2.EuroMov LaboratoryUniversity of MontpellierMontpellierFrance

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