Kinesiology and Motor Control Lab

Timing and Rhythmic Movement Control

In Bravi et al., 2014a we investigated whether and how non temporal and temporal characteristics of an auditory stimulus (presence, interval occupancy, and tempo) affect precision and accuracy of rhythmic motor performance. Results suggest that distinct characteristics of an auditory stimulus may significantly influence isochronous movements by altering their duration, providing evidence for an adaptable control of timing in the audio–motor coupling for isochronous movements. The dataset of was later expanded to study whether simple and complex paced auditory stimuli (clicks and music, respectively) and their imaginations influenced in a different way the event-based and emergent timing, the timing mechanisms for the production of rhythmic actions (Bravi et al., 2015). In addition, since the relationship linking the two forms of temporal control is a matter of debate we wanted to get a better insight on whether the two timing modes are mutually exclusive or whether an event-based component could coexist with an emergent component. Our findings provide evidence that paced auditory information and its imagination favor the engagement of a clock-like neural process, and specifically that music, unlike clicks, lacks the power to elicit event-based timing.


We continued by investigating whether some sensory manipulation, i.e., the application of Kinesio taping (KT), an elastic band used for treating athletic injuries, on the dominant motor effector was able to reduce the timing variability of repetitive rhythmic movements (Bravi et al., 2014b). We also attempted to understand whether a causal relationship subsisted between such reduction and functional augmentation of central structures involved, brought about by relieving, at least partially, structures from time control. Due to the different types of possible applications of KT, in Bravi et al., 2016, we evaluated whether KT applied with different direction and tension on dominant motor effector might influence differently the precision of sensorimotor synchronization. Our results show that the application of KT decreases the variability of rhythmic movements by a 2-fold effect. KT appears able to render movements less audio dependent by relieving, at least partially, the central structures from time control and making available more resources for an augmented performance.



This was followed by examining the impact of KT in improving timing consistency of repetitive movements when it was applied on dominant and non-dominant hands (Bravi et al., 2017). In addition, we studied whether different level of timing skills influences the neural processes governing the temporal regulation for production of rhythmic movements. We found that that limb advantages in performing proficiently rhythmic movements are not side-locked but depend also on speed of movement. The application of KT significantly reduces the timing variability of repetitive isochronous movements performed at 550-ms inter-onset-intervals. KT not only cancels the disadvantages of the non-dominant limb but also makes it even more precise than the dominant limb without KT. When taken together with the subject’s inherent level of precision different patterns of response to KT were observed. In the non-dominant limb the effect of KT was found significantly higher, whereas, in the dominant limb the effect of KT was not influenced by the inherent timing skill (Bravi et al., 2018).


Due to the effect observed in the previous studies of KT on timing control, we sought to investigate whether KT may also be useful in musician’s suffering from focal hand dystonia (Bravi et al., 2019). We found no differences in effects between corrective KT application and Sham KT application for either for general performance or for fingers’ posture. Also, any subtle benefits observed during corrective KT application were lost after the tape was removed.





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