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Exp Brain Res. 2009 Sep;198(2-3):339-52. doi: 10.1007/s00221-009-1817-2. Epub 2009 Apr 30.

Multisensory integration of drumming actions: musical expertise affects perceived audiovisual asynchrony.

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Department of Psychology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QB Scotland, UK.


We investigated the effect of musical expertise on sensitivity to asynchrony for drumming point-light displays, which varied in their physical characteristics (Experiment 1) or in their degree of audiovisual congruency (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, 21 repetitions of three tempos x three accents x nine audiovisual delays were presented to four jazz drummers and four novices. In Experiment 2, ten repetitions of two audiovisual incongruency conditions x nine audiovisual delays were presented to 13 drummers and 13 novices. Participants gave forced-choice judgments of audiovisual synchrony. The results of Experiment 1 show an enhancement in experts' ability to detect asynchrony, especially for slower drumming tempos. In Experiment 2 an increase in sensitivity to asynchrony was found for incongruent stimuli; this increase, however, is attributable only to the novice group. Altogether the results indicated that through musical practice we learn to ignore variations in stimulus characteristics that otherwise would affect our multisensory integration processes.

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