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J M Ross, A S Warlaumont, A S Abney, L M Rigoli, and Ramesh Balasubramaniam (2016)

Influence of Musical Groove on Postural Sway

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 43:308-319.

Timescales of postural fluctuation reflect underlying neuromuscular processes in balance control that are influenced by sensory information and the performance of concurrent cognitive and motor tasks. An open question is how postural fluctuations entrain to complex environmental rhythms, such as in music, which also vary on multiple timescales. Musical groove describes the property of music that encourages auditory-motor synchronization and is used to study voluntary motor entrainment to rhythmic sounds. The influence of groove on balance control mechanisms remains unexplored. We recorded fluctuations in center of pressure (CoP) of standing participants (N = 40) listening to low and high groove music and during quiet stance. We found an effect of musical groove on radial sway variability, with the least amount of variability in the high groove condition. In addition, we observed that groove influenced postural sway entrainment at various temporal scales. For example, with increasing levels of groove, we observed more entrainment to shorter, local timescale rhythmic musical occurrences. In contrast, we observed more entrainment to longer, global timescale features of the music, such as periodicity, with decreasing levels of groove. Finally, musical experience influenced the amount of postural variability and entrainment at local and global timescales. We conclude that groove in music and musical experience can influence the neural mechanisms that govern balance control, and discuss implications of our findings in terms of multiscale sensorimotor coupling.

postural sway