The distinction between tapping and circle drawing with and without tactile feedback: a test for sources of timing variance

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Journal of Experimental Psychology






American Psychological Association

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An internal clock-like process has been implicated in the control of rhythmic movements performed for short (250–2,000 ms) time scales. However, in the past decade, it has been claimed that a clock-like central timing mechanism is not required for smooth cyclical movements. The distinguishing characteristic delineating clock-like (event) from non-clock-like (emergent) timing is thought to be the kinematic differences between tapping (discrete-like) and circle drawing (smooth). In the archetypal event-timed task (tapping), presence of perceptual events is confounded with the discrete kinematics of movement (table contact). Recently, it has been suggested that discrete perceptual events help participants synchronize with a metronome. However, whether discrete tactile events directly elicit event timing has yet to be determined. In the present study, we examined whether a tactile event inserted into the circle drawing timing task could elicit event timing in a self-paced (continuation) timing task. For a majority of participants, inserting an event into the circle drawing task elicited timing behaviour consistent with the idea that an internal timekeeper was employed (a correlation of circle drawing with tapping). Additionally, some participants exhibited characteristics of event timing in the typically emergently timed circle drawing task. We conclude that the use of event timing can be influenced by the insertion of perceptual events, and it also exhibits persistence over time and over tasks within certain individuals.

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