Intercepting beats in predesignated target zones

Cathy Craig, G.J. Pepping, M.A. Grealy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Moving to a rhythm necessitates precise timing between the movement of the chosen limb and the timing imposed by the beats. However, the temporal information specifying the moment when a beat will sound (the moment onto which one must synchronise one's movement) is not continuously provided by the acoustic array. Because of this informational void, the actors need some form of prospective information that will allow them to act sufficiently ahead of time in order to get their hand in the right place at the right time. In this acoustic interception study, where participants were asked to move between two targets in such a way that they arrived and stopped in the target zone at the same time as a beat sounded, we tested a model derived from tau-coupling theory (Lee DN (1998) Ecol Psychol 10:221-250). This model attempts to explain the form of a potential timing guide that specifies the duration of the inter-beat intervals and also describes how this informational guide can be used in the timing and guidance of movements. The results of our first experiment show that, for inter-beat intervals of less than 3 s, a large proportion of the movement (over 70%) can be explained by the proposed model. However, a second experiment, which augments the time between beats so that it surpasses 3 s, shows a marked decline in the percentage of information/movement coupling. A close analysis of the movement kinematics indicates a lack of control and anticipation in the participants' movements. The implications of these findings, in light of other research studies, are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-504
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
Early online date24 May 2005
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Sept 2005


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