Several studies have found that the motor rhythms that individuals produce spontaneously, for example during finger tapping, clapping or walking, are also rated perceptually as ‘very comfortable’ to listen to. This motivated proposal of the Preferred Period Hypothesis, suggesting that individuals have a characteristic preferred rhythm, that generalizes across perception and production. However, some of the experimental procedures used previously raise two methodological concerns: First, in many of these studies, the rhythms used for assessment of participants’ Perceptual Preferred Tempo (PPT) were tailored specifically around each participant's personal Spontaneous Motor Tempo (SMT). This may have biased results toward the central rhythm used, artificially increasing the similarity between spontaneous motor and auditory perceptual preferences. Second, a key prediction of the Preferred Period Hypothesis is that the same default rhythms are repeatedly found within-subject. However, measures of consistency are seldom reported, and increased within-subject variability has sometimes been used to exclude participants. The current study was an attempt to replicate reports of a correspondence between motor and perceptual rhythms, and closely followed previous experimental protocols by conducting three tasks: SMT was evaluated by instructing participants to tap ‘at their most comfortable rate’; PPT was assessed by asking participants to rate a 10 different rhythms according to how ‘comfortable’ they were; and motor-replication of rhythms was assessed using a Synchronization-Continuation task, over a wide range of rhythms. However, in contrast to previous studies, for all participants we use the same 10 perceptual rhythms in both the PPT and Synchronization-Continuation task, irrespective of their SMT. Moreover, we assessed and report measures of within- and between-trial consistency, in order to evaluate whether participants gave similar rating and produced similar motor rhythms across multiple sessions throughout the experiment. The data presented here fail to show any correlation between motor and perceptual preferences, nor do they support improved synchronization-continuation performance near an individual's so-called SMT or PPT. Rather, they demonstrate substantial within-subject variability in the spontaneous motor rhythms produced across repeated sessions, as well as their subjective rating of perceived rhythms. This report accompanies our article “Spontaneous and Stimulus-Driven Rhythmic Behaviors in ADHD Adults and Controls” , and provided motivation and insight for modifying the procedures used for SMT and PPT evaluation, and their interpretation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by FP7-CIG grant ( 2013–631265 ), and the ISF I-Core Center for Excellence 51/11 .
© 2020 The Authors
- Auditory perception
- Auditory-Motor interactions
- Finger tapping
- Motor rhythms