Body movement enhances the extraction of temporal structures in auditory sequences

Psychol Res. 2012 May;76(3):373-82. doi: 10.1007/s00426-011-0346-3. Epub 2011 Jun 22.


Auditory and motor systems interact in processing auditory rhythms. This study investigated the effect of intuitive body movement, such as head nodding or foot tapping, on listeners' ability to entrain to the pulse of an auditory sequence. A pulse-finding task was employed using an isochronous sequence of tones in which tones were omitted at pseudorandom positions. Musicians and non-musicians identified their subjectively fitting pulse either using periodic body movement or through listening only. The identified pulse was measured subsequently by finger tapping. Movement appeared to assist pulse extraction especially for non-musicians. The chosen pulse tempi tended to be faster with movement. Additionally, movement led to higher synchronization stabilities of the produced pulse along the sequence, regardless of musical training. These findings demonstrated the facilitatory role of body movement in entraining to auditory rhythms and its interaction with musical training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Music*
  • Reaction Time / physiology