What is it about?

When navigating a busy sidewalk, people coordinate their behavior in an orderly manner. Other activities require people to carefully synchronize periodic actions, as in a group rowing or marching. When individuals tap in synchrony with a metronome, their taps tend to anticipate the metronome. Experiments have revealed that factors like musical expertise, the presence of a synchronizing partner, auditory feedback, and the sound travel time, all systematically affect the tendency to anticipate. While researchers have hypothesized a number of potential mechanisms for such anticipatory behavior, none have successfully accounted for all of the effects. Previous research on coupled physical systems has shown that when one system receives input from a second system, plus its own delayed signal as input, this causes system 1 to anticipate system 2. We hypothesize that the tendency to anticipate is the result of delayed communication between neurons.

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Why is it important?

Our work demonstrates the ability of delay-coupled physical systems to capture human anticipation and the effect of external factors in the anticipation tendency. Our model supports the theory that delayed communication within the nervous system is crucial to understanding anticipatory coordinative behavior.

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This page is a summary of: Delayed feedback embedded in perception-action coordination cycles results in anticipation behavior during synchronized rhythmic action: A dynamical systems approach, PLoS Computational Biology, October 2019, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007371.
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