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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 1678390, 17 pages
Research Article

Visual Timing of Structured Dance Movements Resembles Auditory Rhythm Perception

Department of Movement Science, Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, Technical University of Munich, 80992 Munich, Germany

Received 2 September 2015; Revised 29 January 2016; Accepted 14 April 2016

Academic Editor: Francesca Frassinetti

Copyright © 2016 Yi-Huang Su and Elvira Salazar-López. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Temporal mechanisms for processing auditory musical rhythms are well established, in which a perceived beat is beneficial for timing purposes. It is yet unknown whether such beat-based timing would also underlie visual perception of temporally structured, ecological stimuli connected to music: dance. In this study, we investigated whether observers extracted a visual beat when watching dance movements to assist visual timing of these movements. Participants watched silent videos of dance sequences and reproduced the movement duration by mental recall. We found better visual timing for limb movements with regular patterns in the trajectories than without, similar to the beat advantage for auditory rhythms. When movements involved both the arms and the legs, the benefit of a visual beat relied only on the latter. The beat-based advantage persisted despite auditory interferences that were temporally incongruent with the visual beat, arguing for the visual nature of these mechanisms. Our results suggest that visual timing principles for dance parallel their auditory counterparts for music, which may be based on common sensorimotor coupling. These processes likely yield multimodal rhythm representations in the scenario of music and dance.