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Repeated bout rate enhancement of finger tapping does not occur in musicians
1 , 1 , 1 , 1, 2 , 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)

When tapping with the index finger at a freely chosen rate, the tapping frequency can increase during the second of two consecutive tapping bouts. This phenomenon is termed repeated bout rate enhancement (RBRE) and has been reported to occur regardless of duration of the first tapping bout or rest time between the bouts. However, it is currently unknown whether RBRE occurs in musicians who can maintain rhythmic consistency better than novices. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to investigate whether musical training would affect RBRE. We recruited eight individuals who regularly play musical instruments (musicians) and seven individuals who have never experienced musical training (novices). They performed two three-min tapping bouts separated by 10 min rest. They were instructed to tap at a preferred rate while focusing on something other than the tapping task. As a result, the tapping rate increased from 114.2 ± 57.8 taps/min to 124.7 ± 61.1 taps/min in the novices. On the other hand, there was a decrease in the tapping rate from 96.3 ± 27.9 taps/min to 91.9 ± 31.2 taps/min in musicians. RBRE is considered to occur as a consequence of increased excitability in the neuronal networks associated with the central pattern generator and/or in supraspinal centers. Therefore, our findings may imply that musical training inhibits these neural systems. Further studies are needed to reveal the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the RBRE.

Keywords: finger tapping rate; rhythmic movement; musician