This review paper discusses
rhythmicinteractions and distinguishes them from non-rhythmicinteractions. We report on communicative behaviours in social and sexual contexts, as found in dyads of humans, non-human primates, non-primate mammals, birds, anurans and insects. We discuss observed instances of rhythm in dyadic interactions, identify knowledge gaps and propose suggestions for future research. We find that most studies on rhythmicity in interactive signals mainly focus on one modality (acoustic or visual) and we suggest more work should be performed on multimodal signals. Although the social functions of interactive rhythms have been fairly well described, developmental research on rhythms used to regulate social interactions is still lacking. Future work should also focus on identifying the exact timing mechanisms involved. Rhythmic signalling behaviours are widespread and critical in regulating social interactions across taxa, but many questions remain unexplored. A multidisciplinary, comparative cross-species approach may help provide answers.
This article is part of the theme issue ‘Synchrony and rhythm interaction: from the brain to behavioural ecology’.