Multi-person and multisensory synchronization during group dancing
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Synchronized group dancing is one of the hallmarks of both coordination and cooperation in the humans species. While a large amount of research has focused on joint action in dyads, the mechanisms of coordination in larger groups are not well understood. In the present study, we explored the coordination dynamics of a group of folk dancers by examining the influence of three sensory-coupling channels on the stability of group coordination. Using 3D motion capture, we recorded a group of 13 expert folk dancers performing to the beat of music (auditory coupling) while holding hands in a circle (haptic coupling) and seeing their fellow dancers (visual coupling). Analyses of group synchrony using cluster phase analysis demonstrated that selective elimination of any one of the three types of sensory coupling significantly reduced group synchrony, where haptic coupling had the strongest effect on movements in the horizontal plane, but also impacted the vertical axis. This study provides some of the first evidence of how sensory couplings support multi-person coordination in a large group, and in particular the effect of body contact on this coordination.
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