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The effect of piano playing experience on tapping synchronization to different sensory modalities
1 , 1 , 1, 2 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 1 , * 1
1  Department of Sensorimotor Neuroscience, Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan
2  Research Fellow of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
Academic Editor: Stephen Meriney (registering DOI)

Previous studies have demonstrated that tapping synchronization is more accurate in the auditory than visual modality in the experienced piano players. In addition, they synchronize their finger taps with stimuli remarkably better than the novice especially when the ring or little finger is used. However, it is currently unclear whether or not piano playing experience would affect the ability to synchronize with visual or auditory stimuli presented by an electronic metronome, which is commonly used in piano lessons. In this study, seven piano players and seven novices synchronized their finger taps with visual, auditory, or visual-auditory metronomes at 1 Hz. Tapping was performed with the index or ring finger on a force transducer. We recorded the applied force and acceleration of the finger movement during the task, and analyzed temporal asynchrony (TA) between tap onset and metronome onset. In the novices, TA was larger during tapping with the ring than index finger. Also, their standard deviation of TA was larger when synchronizing with visual stimuli using the ring finger as compared to the index finger. These differences were not apparent in the piano players. In both groups, the index finger acceleration was faster than that of the ring finger. Furthermore, there was a positive correlation between the acceleration and the applied force in the piano players but not in the novices. Our findings suggest that long-term piano training enhances motor control of the ring finger.

Keywords: tapping; sensorimotor synchronization; piano experience