The ability to synchronize movements to a rhythmic stimulus, referred to as sensorimotor synchronization (SMS), is a behavioral measure of beat perception. Although SMS is generally superior when rhythms are presented in the auditory modality, recent research has demonstrated near-equivalent SMS for vibrotactile presentations of isochronous rhythms [Ammirante, P., Patel, A. D., & Russo, F. A. Synchronizing to auditory and tactile metronomes: A test of the auditory–motor enhancement hypothesis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23, 1882–1890, 2016]. The current study aimed to replicate and extend this study by incorporating a neural measure of beat perception. Nonmusicians were asked to tap to rhythms or to listen passively while EEG data were collected. Rhythmic complexity (isochronous, nonisochronous) and presentation modality (auditory, vibrotactile, bimodal) were fully crossed. Tapping data were consistent with those observed by Ammirante et al. (2016), revealing near-equivalent SMS for isochronous rhythms across modality conditions and a drop-off in SMS for nonisochronous rhythms, especially in the vibrotactile condition. EEG data revealed a greater degree of neural entrainment for isochronous compared to nonisochronous trials as well as for auditory and bimodal compared to vibrotactile trials. These findings led us to three main conclusions. First, isochronous rhythms lead to higher levels of beat perception than nonisochronous rhythms across modalities. Second, beat perception is generally enhanced for auditory presentations of rhythm but still possible under vibrotactile presentation conditions. Finally, exploratory analysis of neural entrainment at harmonic frequencies suggests that beat perception may be enhanced for bimodal presentations of rhythm.

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