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Temporal resolution of the brain

Brad Wyble bradw at cs.brandeis.edu
Wed Nov 16 22:17:31 EST 1994

rwalker at grithill.demon.co.uk (robin walker) writes:

>As part of an investigation into how the brain records patterns of stimulii
>and responses, it would help to know how accurately the brain can resolve
>temporal events.

>To give examples:-

>1. If an experienced musician hears a piece of music, how closely can he/she 
>follow the tempo of the piece when performing it some short time after 
>first hearing it.

>Two measures are of interest, a) the temporal error between any two points in 
>the piece and b) the cumulative error over the whole piece. Might there be 
>intermediate errors that are greater than the cumulative error or does 
>the cumulative error generally increase over the duration of the piece?

>2. If an experienced musician performs a piece of music with which he/she is 
>familiar twice in succession how closely is the the tempo maintained
>between the two performances using the two measures above.

>I would be very grateful if anyone could give some pointers to published
>research on this subject or who can otherwise shed some light on the matter.

>Robin Walker

Hopefully I'm not out of place suggesting this here in light of the
recent controversy concerning subject matter, but an interesting study
that lept to my mind when reading this request would be to study the
ability of the brain to stay with low frequency rhythyms.  More
specifically, its easy for an individual to maintain a 60 Hz beat, but
as the frequency decreases, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay
with it and predict the next beat without maintaining an internal
counting mechanism of some kind that divides the intervals between beats into
	It may be the case that musicians have a difficult time
suppressing this internal counting mechanism, but there should be many
for whom the process is not automatic.  Or maybe I'm the lone freak
who doesn't do it.
	In any case, I imagine that this study might shed some
interesting light on the storage of temporal patterns.  If it has
already been done and I'm blowing wind, my sincerest apologies.

					-Brad Wyble
					Brandeis U.

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