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A-151 Cognitive and perceptual constraints on rhythmic action
Bruno Repp, NSF

Research Goals. Humans readily move in time with regular sounds such as a drumbeat. This skill, known as sensorimotor synchronization, underlies activities such as dancing, marching, and especially music performance, all of which require precise temporal coordination of actions with rhythmic sequences of sounds. The standard task used to investigate synchronization is finger tapping in time with a rhythmic sequence of stimuli. There is still much to be learned: How does synchronization work when the sequences approach the complexity of music? Why is synchronization with simple visual sequences much harder than with auditory ones? Are individual differences in synchronization accuracy related to individual differences in other sensorimotor skills, such as reading fluency? Bruno will investigate these and related questions. In addition, with Claudia Carello, Bruno will explore a possible connection between synchronization skill and reading fluency in college students. This research will test hypotheses that are relevant to cognitive neuroscience, the understanding of modality differences, and dynamic models of coordination. It also will lead to a better appreciation of the special skills involved in music performance, and it may provide clues to specific impairments of sequencing and timing.

Current Status. The proposal was funded for two years, with the possibility of renewal for a third year. The start date was 4/1/07. Total costs for the first year are $161,515.