Kjerstin Torre, Ramesh Balasubramaniam, Nicole Rheaume, Loic Lemoine, and Howard N Zelaznik (2011)
Long-range correlation properties in motor timing are individual and task specific
Psychonomic Bullet & Review, 18:339-46.
1/f (β) noise represents a specific form of (long-range) correlations in a time series that is pervasive across many sensorimotor variables. Recent studies have shown that the precise properties of the correlations demonstrated by a group of test participants may vary as a function of experimental conditions or factors characterizing the group. Our purpose in the present study was to clarify whether long-range correlations affect sensorimotor performance generally or in a task-specific manner and whether each individual produces characteristic long-range correlations that are reliable across several runs of the same task. We analyzed the series of time intervals produced by 43 participants in two timing tasks: unimanual rhythmic tapping and circle drawing. We found that a participant's 1/f (β) properties in tapping were not related to the 1/f (β) properties in circle drawing. However, within each task, individual differences were reliable, and a Cronbach's alpha of .59 showed a high degree of within-subjects reproducibility of the long-range correlations. Thus, long-range correlations represent a consistent and distinctive characteristic of individuals performing a particular task, rather than a ubiquitous generic property of sensorimotor time series. The implications of these results are discussed from both a theoretical and a methodological perspective.