The ability to tap to a beat relates to cognitive, linguistic, and perceptual skills

Brain Lang. 2013 Mar;124(3):225-31. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2012.12.014. Epub 2013 Feb 9.


Reading-impaired children have difficulty tapping to a beat. Here we tested whether this relationship between reading ability and synchronized tapping holds in typically-developing adolescents. We also hypothesized that tapping relates to two other abilities. First, since auditory-motor synchronization requires monitoring of the relationship between motor output and auditory input, we predicted that subjects better able to tap to the beat would perform better on attention tests. Second, since auditory-motor synchronization requires fine temporal precision within the auditory system for the extraction of a sound's onset time, we predicted that subjects better able to tap to the beat would be less affected by backward masking, a measure of temporal precision within the auditory system. As predicted, tapping performance related to reading, attention, and backward masking. These results motivate future research investigating whether beat synchronization training can improve not only reading ability, but potentially executive function and auditory processing as well.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Perceptual Masking / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reading*