“Moving to the beat” improves timing perception
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Here, we demonstrate that "moving to the beat" can improve the perception of timing, providing an intriguing explanation as to why we often move when listening to music. In the first experiment, participants heard a series of isochronous beats and identified whether the timing of a final tone after a short silence was consistent with the timing of the preceding sequence. On half of the trials, participants tapped along with the beat, and on half of the trials, they listened without moving. When the final tone occurred later than expected, performance in the movement condition was significantly better than performance in the no-movement condition. Two additional experiments illustrate that this improved performance is due to improved timekeeping, rather than to a shift in strategy. This work contributes to a growing literature on sensorimotor integration by demonstrating body movement's objective improvement in timekeeping, complementing previous explorations involving subjective tasks.
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