The impact of external rhythmic structure on perception has been demonstrated across different modalities and experimental paradigms. However, recent findings emphasize substantial individual differences in rhythm-based perceptual modulation. Here, we examine the link between spontaneous rhythmic preferences, as measured through the motor system, and individual differences in rhythmic modulation of visual discrimination. As a first step, we measure individual rhythmic preferences using the spontaneous tapping task. Then we assess perceptual rhythmic modulation using a visual discrimination task in which targets can appear either in-phase or out-of-phase with a preceding rhythmic stream of visual stimuli. The tempo of the preceding stream was manipulated over different experimental blocks (0.77 Hz, 1.4 Hz, 2 Hz). We find that visual rhythmic stimulation modulates discrimination performance. The modulation is dependent on the tempo of stimulation, with maximal perceptual benefits for the slowest tempo of stimulation (0.77 Hz). Most importantly, the strength of modulation is also linked to individuals' spontaneous motor tempo. Individuals with slower spontaneous tempi show greater rhythmic modulation compared to individuals with faster spontaneous tempi. This finding suggests that different tempi affect the cognitive system with varying levels of efficiency and that self-generated rhythms impact our ability to utilize rhythmic structure in the environment for guiding perception and performance.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by funds from Joy Ventures, the James McDonnell Scholar Award for Understanding Human Cognition and the Israel Science Foundation. The authors would like to thank Yoel Gordon for assistance with data collection and Nitzan Guy, Henry Brice, Nir Ofir and Maya Inbar for support in data analysis. We would like to thank Noam Swartz for data visualization advice and Noa Itzhaki for her insightful comments on an early version of the manuscript.
© 2022 The Authors. European Journal of Neuroscience published by Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- active sensing
- individual differences
- rhythmic facilitation
- visual discrimination