Effects of attention on rhythmic coordination

Date of Completion

January 1999


Psychology, Psychobiology|Psychology, Cognitive




Dual-task and wrist-pendulum paradigms were used to investigate effects of attention on bimanual coordination. In Experiment 1, participants oscillated hand-held pendulums of the same eigenfrequency under single and dual-task conditions. Dual-task conditions required concurrent performance of bimanual coordination and cognitive activities that demanded attention to different degrees. Experiments 2 and 3 evaluated the effects of these attentional demands in the context of manipulations of detuning and movement frequency, respectively. The results of Experiments 1–3 were consistent in that attentional influences were manifested primarily as changes in equilibrium point position. Furthermore, these attention-induced shifts in equilibrium position were independent of detuning and movement frequency. In Experiment 4, the method of administering cognitive tasks was modified based on the previous three experiments. Results indicated that cognitive tasks of greater difficulty impart greater shifts in equilibrium position. ^ The present research demonstrates that the classically psychological construct of attention can be pursued within a dynamical systems framework. Discussion includes dynamical perspectives on changes in motor behavior, classical and contemporary theories of attention, and implications of dual-task performance for rehabilitation. ^