(Dis‑)Harmony in movement: effects of musical dissonance on movement timing and form

Naeem Komeilipoor, Matthew W. M. Rodger, Cathy M. Craig, Paola Cesari

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17 Citations (Scopus)
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While the origins of consonance and dissonance in terms of acoustics, psychoacoustics and physiology have been debated for centuries, their plausible effects on movement synchronization have largely been ignored. The present study aims to address this by investigating whether, and if so how, consonant/dissonant pitch intervals affect the spatiotemporal properties of regular reciprocal aiming movements. We compared movements synchronized either to consonant or to dissonant sounds, and showed that they were differently influenced by the degree of consonance of the sound presented. Interestingly, the difference was present after the sound stimulus was removed. In this case, the performance measured after consonant sound exposure was found to be more stable and accurate, with a higher percentage of information/movement coupling (tau-coupling) and a higher degree of movement circularity when compared to performance measured after the exposure to dissonant sounds. We infer that the neural resonance representing consonant tones leads to finer perception/action coupling which in turn may help explain the prevailing preference for these types of tones.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1585-1595
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number5
Early online date1 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 May 2015


  • Consonance dissonance sounds, Musical pitch intervals, Sensorimotor synchronization

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