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01-11-2010 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2010 Open Access

Psychological Research 6/2010

Keeping an eye on the violinist: motor experts show superior timing consistency in a visual perception task

Psychological Research > Uitgave 6/2010
Clemens Wöllner, Rouwen Cañal-Bruland


Common coding theory states that perception and action may reciprocally induce each other. Consequently, motor expertise should map onto perceptual consistency in specific tasks such as predicting the exact timing of a musical entry. To test this hypothesis, ten string musicians (motor experts), ten non-string musicians (visual experts), and ten non-musicians were asked to watch progressively occluded video recordings of a first violinist indicating entries to fellow members of a string quartet. Participants synchronised with the perceived timing of the musical entries. Results revealed significant effects of motor expertise on perception. Compared to visual experts and non-musicians, string players not only responded more accurately, but also with less timing variability. These findings provide evidence that motor experts’ consistency in movement execution—a key characteristic of expert motor performance—is mirrored in lower variability in perceptual judgements, indicating close links between action competence and perception.

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