Compatibility of Motion Facilitates Visuomotor Synchronization

Abstract

Prior research indicates that synchronized tapping performance is far worse with flashing visual stimuli than with auditory stimuli. This observed difference may reflect a general auditory advantage for processing temporal information, while visual processing may have an advantage with spatial information. Three finger-tapping experiments compared flashing visual metronomes with visual metronomes containing a spatial component, either compatible, incompatible, or orthogonal to the tapping action. In Experiment 1, synchronization success rates increased dramatically for spatiotemporal sequences of both geometric and biological forms over flashing sequences. In Experiment 2, synchronization performance was best when target sequences and movements were directionally compatible (i.e. simultaneously down), followed by orthogonal, action-neutral stimuli, and was poorest for incompatible moving stimuli (upward target/downward movement) and flashing target sequences. In Experiment 3, synchronization performance was best with auditory sequences, followed by compatible moving stimuli and was worst for flashing and fading sequences. Results indicate that visuomotor synchronization improves dramatically with compatible spatial information (translation over time); however, an auditory advantage in sensorimotor synchronization persists.


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