The accuracy of on-beat and off-beat synchronized finger tapping was examined as a function of sequence rate in musically trained individuals. Auditory sequences consisted of cyclically repeated, underlyingly isochronous patterns of the form T0, TT0, or TTT0, where T denotes a tone onset and 0 denotes its absence. In different conditions, participants attempted to tap in synchrony with one of the possible T (�on-beat�) or 0 (�off-beat�) positions in each pattern while the sequence rate increased from trial to trial. It was hypothesized that on-beat tapping would be easier with tones that carry a rhythmic grouping accent (T2 in TT0, T1 and T3 in TTT0) than with tones that do not (T1 in TT0, T2 in TTT0), according to findings of Povel and colleagues. The hypothesis was strongly supported for TTT0, but there were considerable individual differences with regard to TT0. Off-beat tapping was generally difficult and often switched to on-beat tapping at fast tempi. The findings reveal rate limits of sensorimotor coordination that may be relevant to music performance in ensembles.
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