Musical training enhances temporal adaptation of auditory-motor synchronization

  • Rebecca Scheurich
  • Peter Q. Pfordresher
  • Caroline PalmerEmail author
Research Article


To coordinate their actions successfully with auditory events, individuals must be able to adapt their behaviour flexibly to environmental changes. Previous work has shown that musical training enhances the flexibility to synchronize behaviour with a wide range of stimulus periods. The current experiment investigated whether musical training enhances temporal adaptation to period perturbations as listeners tapped with a metronome, and whether this enhancement is specific to individuals’ Spontaneous Production Rates (SPRs; individuals’ natural uncued rates). Both musicians and nonmusicians adapted more quickly to period perturbations that slowed down than to those that sped up. Importantly, musicians adapted more quickly to all period perturbations than nonmusicians. Fits of a damped harmonic oscillator model to the tapping measures confirmed musicians’ faster adaptation and greater responsiveness to period perturbations. These results suggest that, even when the task is tailored to individual SPRs, musical training increases the flexibility with which individuals can adapt to changes in their environment during auditory-motor tasks.


Flexibility Auditory-motor synchronization Temporal adaptation Musical training Spontaneous production rates 



This research was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) fellowship to Rebecca Scheurich, a Fulbright award to Peter Pfordresher, and NSERC Grant 298173 and a Canada Research Chair to Caroline Palmer. We are grateful to Maya Aharon, Jamie Dunkle, Frances Spidle, and Anna Zamm for their assistance.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

221_2019_5692_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (359 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 360 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity at Buffalo, SUNYBuffaloUSA

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