Do perception and motor production share common timing mechanisms: A correlational analysis

Steven W. Keele*, Robert A. Pokorny, Daniel M. Corcos, Richard Ivry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

267 Scopus citations


The two experiments of this study exploited individual variation in timing ability to ask whether the production of time intervals by different motor effectors and the judgement of perceptually based time intervals all share common timing mechanisms. In one task subjects produced a series of taps, attempting to maintain constant intervals between them. Individual differences in variability of the produced intervals correlated across the effectors of finger and foot. That is, people that were 'good timers' with one effector tended to be 'good timers' with another. Besides timing motor production, the subjects also judged durations of brief perceptual events. The acuity of perceptual judgements correlate substantially with regularity of motor production. Further results involving maximum speed of motor production suggested that variability of motor timing comes from two sources, one source in common with perception, and hence called clock variability, and the other source in common with motor speed, and hence called motor implementation variability. The second experiment showed that people high in skill on the piano were better at both types of timing on the average than control subjects with no expertise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-191
Number of pages19
JournalActa psychologica
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Dec 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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