A Metastable Attractor Model of Self-Other Integration (MEAMSO) in Rhythmic Synchronization

Ole Adrian Heggli, Ivana Konvalinka, Morten L. Kringelbach, Peter Vuust

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Human interaction is often accompanied by synchronized bodily rhythms. Such synchronization may emerge spontaneously as when a crowd's applause turns into a steady beat, be encouraged as in nursery rhymes, or be intentional as in the case of playing music together. The latter has been extensively studied using joint finger-tapping paradigms as a simplified version of rhythmic interpersonal synchronization. A key finding is that synchronization in such cases is multifaceted, with synchronized behaviour resting upon different synchronization strategies such as mutual adaptation, leading-following and leading-leading. However, there are multiple open questions regarding the mechanism behind these strategies and how they develop dynamically over time. Here, we propose a metastable attractor model of self-other integration (MEAMSO). This model conceptualizes dyadic rhythmic interpersonal synchronization as a process of integrating and segregating signals of self and other. Perceived sounds are continuously evaluated as either being attributed to self-produced or other-produced actions. The model entails a metastable system with two particular attractor states: one where an individual maintains two separate predictive models for self- and other-produced actions, and the other where these two predictive models integrate into one. The MEAMSO explains the three known synchronization strategies and makes testable predictions about the dynamics of interpersonal synchronization both in behaviour and the brain. This article is part of the theme issue 'Synchrony and rhythm interaction: from the brain to behavioural ecology'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20200332
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2021


  • interpersonal synchronization
  • joint action
  • music
  • rhythm
  • self–other integration
  • synchronization


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