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Brain Cogn. 2002 Feb;48(1):66-79.

Temporal control of movements in sensorimotor synchronization.

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Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research, Munich, Germany.


Under conditions in which the temporal structure of events (e.g., a sequence of tones) is predictable, performing movements in synchrony with this sequence of events (e.g., dancing) is an easy task. A rather simplified version of this task is studied in the sensorimotor synchronization paradigm. Participants are instructed to synchronize their finger taps with an isochronous sequence of signals (e.g., clicks). Although this is an easy task, a systematic error is observed: Taps usually precede clicks by several tens of milliseconds. Different models have been proposed to account for this effect ("negative asynchrony" or "synchronization error"). One group of explanations is based on the idea that synchrony is established at the level of central representations (and not at the level of external events), and that the timing of an action is determined by the (anticipated) action effect. These assumptions are tested by manipulating the amount of sensory feedback available from the tap as well as its temporal characteristics. This article presents an overview of these representational models and the empirical evidence supporting them. It also discusses other accounts briefly in the light of further evidence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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