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Acta Psychol (Amst). 2010 Jan;133(1):28-37. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2009.08.003. Epub 2009 Sep 13.

Perception in action: the impact of sensory information on sensorimotor synchronization in musicians and non-musicians.

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Institute for Clinical Neuroscience and Medical Psychology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Duesseldorf, Germany; Department of Neurology, University Hospital Duesseldorf, Germany.


The present study aimed at investigating to what extent sensorimotor synchronization is related to (i) musical specialization, (ii) perceptual discrimination, and (iii) the movement's trajectory. To this end, musicians with different musical expertise (drummers, professional pianists, amateur pianists, singers, and non-musicians) performed an auditory and visual synchronization and a cross-modal temporal discrimination task. During auditory synchronization drummers performed less variably than amateur pianists, singers and non-musicians. In the cross-modal discrimination task drummers showed superior discrimination abilities which were correlated with synchronization variability as well as with the trajectory. These data suggest that (i) the type of specialized musical instrument affects synchronization abilities and (ii) synchronization accuracy is related to perceptual discrimination abilities as well as to (iii) the movement's trajectory. Since particularly synchronization variability was affected by musical expertise, the present data imply that the type of instrument improves accuracy of timekeeping mechanisms.

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