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Trained to keep a beat: movement-related enhancements to timing perception in percussionists and non-percussionists

Abstract

Many studies demonstrate that musicians exhibit superior timing abilities compared to nonmusicians. Here, we investigated how specific musical expertise can mediate the relationship between movement and timing perception. In the present study, a group of highly trained percussionists (n = 33) and a group of non-percussionists (n = 33) were tested on their ability to detect temporal deviations of a tone presented after an isochronous sequence. Participants either tapped along with the sequence using a drumstick (movement condition) or listened without tapping (no-movement condition). Although both groups performed significantly better when moving than when listening alone, percussionists gained a greater benefit from tapping when detecting the smallest probe tone delays compared to non-percussionists. This complements both the musical expertise and timing perception literature by demonstrating that percussionists with high levels of training may further capitalize on the benefits of sensorimotor interactions. Surprisingly, percussionists and non-percussionists performed no differently when listening alone, in contrast to other studies examining the role of training in timing abilities. This raises interesting questions about the degree to which percussionists’ known expertise in timing may interact with their use of motion when judging rhythmic precision.

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Notes

  1. Accuracy of tap recording was verified in the experimental setup and tapping measurements were corrected for a constant latency in recording.

  2. Additional correlations are given in Online Resource 1.

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Acknowledgments

We wish to thank Jennifer Harris, Monique Tardif, Jotthi Bansal, Shawn Kerr, Emily Gula, Amy Wang, and Tashia Petker for assistance with data collection, and Laura Cirelli, the action editor, and the three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier draft. This work was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC RGPIN/386603-2010), Ontario Early Researcher Award (ER10-07-195), and Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI-LOF 30101) to Michael Schutz, PI.

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Correspondence to Fiona C. Manning.

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Manning, F.C., Schutz, M. Trained to keep a beat: movement-related enhancements to timing perception in percussionists and non-percussionists. Psychological Research 80, 532–542 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-015-0678-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-015-0678-5

Keywords

  • Movement Condition
  • Timing Perception
  • Musical Training
  • Timing Ability
  • Movement Trial