Predicting the biological variability of environmental rhythms: Weak or strong anticipation for sensorimotor synchronization?

Kjerstin Torre, Manuel Varlet, Vivien Marmelat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The internal processes involved in synchronizing our movements with environmental stimuli have traditionally been addressed using regular metronomic sequences. Regarding real-life environments, however, biological rhythms are known to have intrinsic variability, ubiquitously characterized as fractal long-range correlations. In our research we thus investigate to what extent the synchronization processes drawn from regular metronome paradigms can be generalized to other (biologically) variable rhythms. Participants performed synchronized finger tapping under five conditions of long-range and/or short-range correlated, randomly variable, and regular auditory sequences. Combining experimental data analysis and numerical simulation, we found that synchronizing with biologically variable rhythms involves the same internal processes as with other variable rhythms (whether totally random or comprising lawful regularities), but different from those involved with a regular metronome. This challenges both the generalizability of conclusions drawn from regular-metronome paradigms, and recent research assuming that biologically variable rhythms may trigger specific strong anticipatory processes to achieve synchronization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-350
Number of pages9
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • External rhythms
  • Fractal
  • Long-range correlation
  • Modeling
  • Regular stimuli
  • Strong anticipation
  • Synchronization
  • Variability
  • Variable stimuli
  • Weak anticipation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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