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01-07-2013 | Original Article | Uitgave 4/2013

Psychological Research 4/2013

Synchronization with competing visual and auditory rhythms: bouncing ball meets metronome

Psychological Research > Uitgave 4/2013
Michael J. Hove, John R. Iversen, Allen Zhang, Bruno H. Repp


Synchronization of finger taps with periodically flashing visual stimuli is known to be much more variable than synchronization with an auditory metronome. When one of these rhythms is the synchronization target and the other serves as a distracter at various temporal offsets, strong auditory dominance is observed. However, it has recently been shown that visuomotor synchronization improves substantially with moving stimuli such as a continuously bouncing ball. The present study pitted a bouncing ball against an auditory metronome in a target–distracter synchronization paradigm, with the participants being auditory experts (musicians) and visual experts (video gamers and ball players). Synchronization was still less variable with auditory than with visual target stimuli in both groups. For musicians, auditory stimuli tended to be more distracting than visual stimuli, whereas the opposite was the case for the visual experts. Overall, there was no main effect of distracter modality. Thus, a distracting spatiotemporal visual rhythm can be as effective as a distracting auditory rhythm in its capacity to perturb synchronous movement, but its effectiveness also depends on modality-specific expertise.

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