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Effects of stimulus intensity and frequency on the force and timing of sensorimotor synchronisation

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  • Neil P.M. Todd, University of Exeter
  • ,
  • Peter E. Keller
  • Sendhil Govender, University of New South Wales, Neuroscience Research Australia
  • ,
  • James G. Colebatch, University of New South Wales, Neuroscience Research Australia

We report an experiment to investigate possible vestibular effects on finger tapping to an auditory anapaest rhythm. In a sample of 10 subjects, index finger acceleration and tapping force were recorded along with extensor/flexor activity and the associated electroencephalographic activity measured at central and cerebellar surface electrodes. In a prior session with a standard short air-conducted 500-Hz pip, vestibular evoked myogenic potential thresholds were measured and subsequently used to set the acoustic intensity. During the main experiment subjects were asked to synchronise tapping to the pips arranged in the anapaest at two different frequencies, 500 Hz vs 5 kHz, so that only the low-frequency high-intensity condition was a vestibular, as well as an auditory stimulus. We hypothesised that a vestibular effect would manifest in an interaction between the frequency and intensity factors for a range of dependent measures of tapping performance. No clear evidence was found for vestibular effects, but this was likely due to the confounding effects of an independent effect of intensity and the relative weakness of the acoustic vestibular stimulus. However, the data did show novel evidence for two distinct timing processes for the flexion and extension stages of a tap cycle and two distinct timing strategies, which we refer to as ‘staccato’ and ‘legato’, characterised by different profiles of force and extension.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTiming and Time Perception
Pages (from-to)158-180
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Cerebellum, Kinematics, Rhythm, Sensorimotor synchronisation, Timing, Vestibular

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