Continuity of Visual and Auditory Rhythms Influences Sensorimotor Coordination

Abstract : People often coordinate their movement with visual and auditory environmental rhythms. Previous research showed better performances when coordinating with auditory compared to visual stimuli, and with bimodal compared to unimodal stimuli. However, these results have been demonstrated with discrete rhythms and it is possible that such effects depend on the continuity of the stimulus rhythms (i.e., whether they are discrete or continuous). The aim of the current study was to investigate the influence of the continuity of visual and auditory rhythms on sensorimotor coordination. We examined the dynamics of synchronized oscillations of a wrist pendulum with auditory and visual rhythms at different frequencies, which were either unimodal or bimodal and discrete or continuous. Specifically, the stimuli used were a light flash, a fading light, a short tone and a frequency-modulated tone. The results demonstrate that the continuity of the stimulus rhythms strongly influences visual and auditory motor coordination. Participants' movement led continuous stimuli and followed discrete stimuli. Asymmetries between the half-cycles of the movement in term of duration and nonlinearity of the trajectory occurred with slower discrete rhythms. Furthermore, the results show that the differences of performance between visual and auditory modalities depend on the continuity of the stimulus rhythms as indicated by movements closer to the instructed coordination for the auditory modality when coordinating with discrete stimuli. The results also indicate that visual and auditory rhythms are integrated together in order to better coordinate irrespective of their continuity, as indicated by less variable coordination closer to the instructed pattern. Generally, the findings have important implications for understanding how we coordinate our movements with visual and auditory environmental rhythms in everyday life. Citation: Varlet M, Marin L, Issartel J, Schmidt RC, Bardy BG (2012) Continuity of Visual and Auditory Rhythms Influences Sensorimotor Coordination. PLoS ONE 7(9): e44082.
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Manuel Varlet, Ludovic Marin, Johann Issartel, R. Schmidt, Benoît Bardy. Continuity of Visual and Auditory Rhythms Influences Sensorimotor Coordination. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2012, 7 (9), pp.e44082. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0044082⟩. ⟨hal-02432948⟩

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