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Guido Marco Cicchini, Roberto Arrighi, Luca Cecchetti, Marco Giusti, David Burr; Optimal coding of interval timing in expert drummers, string musicians and non-musical control subjects. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):1229. doi: 10.1167/11.11.1229.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Jazayeri and Shadlen (Nat. Neurosc. 2010) recently reported that when human observers reproduce time intervals drawn from different distributions production times exhibit a systematic regression towards the mean. They explained and model their data with a performance-optimizing Bayesian model. We repeated their study on a population of expert drummers, string musicians and non-musical control subjects, with both visual and auditory stimuli. For auditory stimuli, no subjects showed regression towards the mean. For visual stimuli, the non-musical control subjects showed a strong regression, but the drummers maintained near-veridical performance with almost no regression to the mean. The string musicians showed intermediate behaviour. We measured separately temporal precision for auditory and visual stimuli with a bisection task. Auditory precision was higher than visual precision, and the drummers were more precise in both domains. Interestingly, there was a strong negative correlation between precision in the bisection task and regression towards the mean in the production (more precise subjects regressed less). We model these data with a modified performance-optimizing Bayesian model, where the prior is calculated from a running mean of previous trials.
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