Stop signals delay synchrony more for finger tapping than vocalization: a dual modality study of rhythmic synchronization in the stop signal task

Leidy J. Castro-Meneses*, Paul F. Sowman

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)
    25 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: A robust feature of sensorimotor synchronization (SMS) performance in finger tapping to an auditory pacing signal is the negative asynchrony of the tap with respect to the pacing signal. The Paillard-Fraisse hypothesis suggests that negative asynchrony is a result of inter-modal integration, in which the brain compares sensory information across two modalities (auditory and tactile). The current study compared the asynchronies of vocalizations and finger tapping in time to an auditory pacing signal. Our first hypothesis was that vocalizations have less negative asynchrony compared to finger tapping due to the requirement for sensory integration within only a single (auditory) modality (intra-modal integration). However, due to the different measurements for vocalizations and finger responses, interpreting the comparison between these two response modalities is problematic. To address this problem, we included stop signals in the synchronization task. The rationale for this manipulation was that stop signals would perturb synchronization more in the inter-modal compared to the intramodal task. We hypothesized that the inclusion of stop signals induce proactive inhibition, which reduces negative asynchrony. We further hypothesized that any reduction in negative asynchrony occurs to a lesser degree for vocalization than for finger tapping. Method: A total of 30 participants took part in this study. We compared SMS in a single sensory modality (vocalizations (or auditory) to auditory pacing signal) to a dual sensory modality (fingers (or tactile) to auditory pacing signal). The task was combined with a stop signal task in which stop signals were relevant in some blocks and irrelevant in others. Response-to-pacing signal asynchronies and stop signal reaction times were compared across modalities and across the two types of stop signal blocks. Results: In the blocks where stopping was irrelevant, we found that vocalization (-61.47 ms) was more synchronous with the auditory pacing signal compared to finger tapping (-128.29 ms). In the blocks where stopping was relevant, stop signals induced proactive inhibition, shifting the response times later. However, proactive inhibition (26.11 ms) was less evident for vocalizations compared to finger tapping (58.06 ms). Discussion: These results support the interpretation that relatively large negative asynchrony in finger tapping is a consequence of inter-modal integration, whereas smaller asynchrony is associated with intra-modal integration. This study also supports the interpretation that intra-modal integration is more sensitive to synchronization discrepancies compared to inter-modal integration.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere5242
    Pages (from-to)1-32
    Number of pages32
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Finger tapping
    • Intra-modal integration
    • Modal integration
    • Negative asynchrony
    • Proactive inhibition
    • Reactive inhibition
    • Sensorimotor synchronization
    • Sensory modality
    • Stop signal task
    • Vocalization


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