Valentin Begel

McGill Univ
Email author

Do we make good partners? Modeling auditory-motor synchronization in a social turn-taking context

Valentin Begel, Alexander P. Demos, Caroline Palmer


My name is Valentin, I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Sequence Production Lab (McGill University, Department of Psychology) with Pr. Caroline Palmer. I am currently studying non-linear dynamics properties of auditory-motor synchronization. I completed my PhD in Human Movement Science at the University of Montpellier (France) in 2017. My broad research interests are humans' rhythm perception and production skills. 

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Do we make good partners? Modeling auditory-motor synchronization in a social turn-taking context

Valentin Begel, Alexander P. Demos, Caroline Palmer

Previous studies have shown large individual differences in how people synchronize their movements with regular sound, as well as differences in their spontaneous tapping rates. Yet little is known of how social turn-taking contexts influence these individual differences. Knowledge of a partner’s synchrony could help or hurt future synchronization, depending on the partner’s synchronization abilities. Participants’ perception of synchronization, pleasantness of the task, and social interactions (connectedness, relationship) may also be affected by spontaneous rates differences. We use delay-coupling oscillator models (in which coupling strength interacts with the intrinsic frequency and a time delay) to capture anticipatory synchronization as individuals synchronize melodies with a metronome, both with and without a partner. Twenty-four participants were recruited (age range: 19–32 years). Half of the participants were musicians. First, participants produced a musical scale at a spontaneous (uncued) rate. Then they synchronized the musical scale with a constant metronome set to their uncued rate or to their future partner’s rate. In a Turn-taking task, two partners took turns every 8 beats, synchronizing the musical scale with a metronome cue; the cued rate matched each partner’s spontaneous rate on different trials. Participants’ ratings of synchronization, pleasantness, connectedness, and relationship were collected at the end of the experiment. In the Turn-taking condition only, partners showed more asynchrony when the metronome was set to their partner’s rate. No differences in asynchronies were observed between musicians and nonmusicians. A delay-coupling model was fit to the tapping asynchronies. Based on best-fitting models (smallest RMSE), modeling revealed that coupling strength became significantly larger for musicians. Ratings of synchronization were higher in musicians. Synchronization ratings increase as other partner’s coupling strength increases in the joint condition at the partner’s rate. Overall, individuals’ synchronization with a metronome cued at their partner’s rate was influenced by the social turn-taking context. A nonlinear dynamical systems model captured asynchronies based on differences in partners’ intrinsic frequency (spontaneous rates), coupling strength with the metronome, and time delay. Musicians rated Synchrony higher, even when musicians were not more synchronous than nonmusicians.