Rhythmic entrainment, or beat synchronization, provides an opportunity to understand how multiple systems operate together to integrate sensory-motor information. Also, synchronization is an essential component of musical performance that may be enhanced through musical training. Investigations of rhythmic entrainment have revealed a developmental trajectory across the lifespan, showing synchronization improves with age and musical experience. Here, we explore the development and maintenance of synchronization in childhood through older adulthood in a large cohort of participants (N = 145), and also ask how it may be altered by musical experience. We employed a uniform assessment of beat synchronization for all participants and compared performance developmentally and between individuals with and without musical experience. We show that the ability to consistently tap along to a beat improves with age into adulthood, yet in older adulthood tapping performance becomes more variable. Also, from childhood into young adulthood, individuals are able to tap increasingly close to the beat (i.e., asynchronies decline with age), however, this trend reverses from younger into older adulthood. There is a positive association between proportion of life spent playing music and tapping performance, which suggests a link between musical experience and auditory-motor integration. These results are broadly consistent with previous investigations into the development of beat synchronization across the lifespan, and thus complement existing studies and present new insights offered by a different, large cross-sectional sample.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)