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25-02-2019 | Original Article | Uitgave 3/2019 Open Access

Psychological Research 3/2019

The roles of musical expertise and sensory feedback in beat keeping and joint action

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research > Uitgave 3/2019
Auteurs:
Benjamin G. Schultz, Caroline Palmer
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Abstract

Auditory feedback of actions provides additional information about the timing of one’s own actions and those of others. However, little is known about how musicians and nonmusicians integrate auditory feedback from multiple sources to regulate their own timing or to (intentionally or unintentionally) coordinate with a partner. We examined how musical expertise modulates the role of auditory feedback in a two-person synchronization–continuation tapping task. Pairs of individuals were instructed to tap at a rate indicated by an initial metronome cue in all four auditory feedback conditions: no feedback, self-feedback (cannot hear their partner), other feedback (cannot hear themselves), or full feedback (both self and other). Participants within a pair were either both musically trained (musicians), both untrained (nonmusicians), or one musically trained and one untrained (mixed). Results demonstrated that all three pair types spontaneously synchronized with their partner when receiving other or full feedback. Moreover, all pair types were better at maintaining the metronome rate with self-feedback than with no feedback. Musician pairs better maintained the metronome rate when receiving other feedback than when receiving no feedback; in contrast, nonmusician pairs were worse when receiving other or full feedback compared to no feedback. Both members of mixed pairs maintained the metronome rate better in the other and full feedback conditions than in the no feedback condition, similar to musician pairs. Overall, nonmusicians benefited from musicians’ expertise without negatively influencing musicians’ ability to maintain the tapping rate. One implication is that nonmusicians may improve their beat-keeping abilities by performing tasks with musically skilled individuals.

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