Are mobile devices sufficiently precise to capture individual differences in auditory-motor synchronization tasks?
Presenter Name:Agnès Zagala
School/Affiliation:Université de Montréal
Co-Authors:Nicholas Foster; Simone Dalla Bella
Keywords: music, rhythm, movement, auditory-motor synchronization, mobile technologies, individual differences
Humans are generally well equipped to move along with auditory rhythms via finger or foot tapping, body swaying or walking. A growing body of studies shows that this ability is quite variable in the general population, however. Moreover, this variability is exacerbated by diseases, such as language/speech disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Parkinson). Testing tools which show sensitivity to this variability have been developed, such as dedicated batteries of tests using finger tapping. One of the limitations of these tools is that they are used in the lab, require dedicated equipment, and they have limited portability. These limitations can be circumvented by using more common and widespread mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones for testing auditory-motor synchronization abilities. However, do off-the-shelf mobile devices have sufficient precision and accuracy to capture individual variability in auditory motor synchronization? To answer this question, we compared the performance in auditory-motor tapping measured with different testing batteries (e.g., BAASTA, H-BAT), implemented on a computer or on tablet. This comparison suggests that using timing information obtained from touchscreen devices could possibly discriminate groups such as musicians and non-musicians. Yet the low timing precision of these devices is not well suited for detecting subtle individual differences and identifying participants with rhythm disorders. We propose a solution for enhancing measurement precision of auditory-motor synchronization on tablet, as already implemented in the BAASTA battery, to increase the sensitivity of this test to individual differences in rhythmic abilities.