Does dance training influence beat sensorimotor synchronization? Differences in finger-tapping sensorimotor synchronization between competitive ballroom dancers and nondancers

  • Xinhong Jin
  • Biye Wang
  • Yuanxin Lv
  • Yingzhi Lu
  • Jiacheng Chen
  • Chenglin ZhouEmail author
Research Article


Sensorimotor synchronization is the coordination of rhythmic movement with an external beat. Dancers often synchronize each beat of their motion with an external rhythm. Compared with social dancing, competitive ballroom dancing requires a higher level of sensorimotor ability. Although previous studies have found that dance experience may facilitate sensorimotor synchronization, they did not examine this in competitive ballroom dancers. Thus, the present study compared sensorimotor synchronization in 41 nondancers and 41 skilled, competitive ballroom dancers as they performed a simple beat synchronization finger-tapping task. All participants finger-tapped freely at their preferred tempo before the formal experiments. Participants were then required to synchronize their finger-tapping with auditory, visual, or combined audiovisual signals in separate experiments and at varying tempos. To assess sensorimotor plasticity, the participants then repeated the free-tapping task after completing all three finger-tapping experiments. Compared with nondancers, dancers showed more accurate and stable beat synchronization. Dancers tapped before onset of all three types of sensorimotor stimulation, indicating a significant negative mean asynchrony and had a tendency to anticipate (predict) the stimuli. Dancers tended to auditory stimulation for beat sensorimotor synchronization, whereas nondancers tended to visual stimuli. Dancers had a faster tempo preference in the initial free-tapping task; however, the preferred tapping tempo increased in all participants in the second free-tapping task, suggesting that beat induction is affected by practice. Together these findings suggest that dance experience enhances sensorimotor synchronization and sensorimotor plasticity, with ballroom dancers tending to auditory stimulation for beat induction.


Beat induction Ballroom dancer Auditory Visual Sensorimotor synchronization 



We thank our colleagues and students for their assistance in data collection. Our deepest gratitude goes to the anonymous reviewers for their careful work and thoughtful suggestions that have helped improve this paper. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 31571151), and Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality, China (Grant no. 17080503100).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Shanghai University of Sport Research Ethics Committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

221_2018_5410_MOESM1_ESM.docx (44 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 43 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xinhong Jin
    • 1
  • Biye Wang
    • 2
  • Yuanxin Lv
    • 3
  • Yingzhi Lu
    • 1
  • Jiacheng Chen
    • 1
  • Chenglin Zhou
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Sport Psychology, School of Sport ScienceShanghai University of SportShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Physical EducationYangzhou UniversityYangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of National Sports and PerformanceNanjing University of SportNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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