Benedetto, A., & Baud-Bovy, G.
Tapping Force Encodes Metrical Aspects of Rhythm
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 15
Humans possess the ability to extract highly organized perceptual structures from sequences of temporal stimuli. For instance, we can organize specific rhythmical patterns into hierarchical, or metrical, systems. Despite the evidence of a fundamental influence of the motor system in achieving this skill, few studies have attempted to investigate the organization of our motor representation of rhythm. To this aim, we studied - in musicians and non-musicians – the ability to perceive and reproduce different rhythms. In a first experiment participants performed a temporal order-judgment task, for rhythmical sequences presented via auditory or tactile modality. In a second experiment, they were asked to reproduce the same rhythmic sequences, while their tapping force and timing were recorded. We demonstrate that tapping force encodes the metrical aspect of the rhythm, and the strength of the coding correlates with the individual’s perceptual accuracy. We suggest that the similarity between perception and tapping-force organization indicates a common representation of rhythm, shared between the perceptual and motor systems.