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Revolution of rhythmic performances throughout adulthood: First results on the role of timing mechanisms, decision and motor processes

The research reported in this chapter uses rhythmic tasks as a means of approaching processes which underlie time estimation (pacemaker rate, attention, memory). Young adults aged between 20 and 30 yrs and elderly Ss aged either between 60 and 69 or between 70 and 80 performed 2 tapping tasks. Ss of each age group were subdivided into 2 groups depending on their musical skill. In the 1st task, Ss were asked to tap at their own preferred rate. In the 2nd task, they were required to synchronize their hand taps with isochronous sound sequences (inter-stimuli interval of 600 ms). Timing behavior in the free motor tempo task and the synchronization task was more variable and less accurate for elderly people than for young adults. Moreover, in all age groups, musicians showed more regularity than non musicians. An unexpected result was that the variability of rhythmic performances was higher for elderly women than for elderly men. The sex-related differences in timing behavior are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)