The role of interaction and predictability in the spontaneous entrainment of movement.

People walking side by side spontaneously synchronize their steps on some occasions but not on others, which poses a challenge to theories of perception-action based on interactive dynamic systems. How can action be spontaneously entrained by some sources of perceptual information while others are selectively ignored? The predictive processing framework suggests that saliency factors such as stimulus predictability, consistent deviation, and interactivity of the stimulus control the coupling between the motor system and perceptual information. To test this, we compared entrainment of gait cadence by two interactive auditory stimuli and two noninteractive but predictable, faster than preferred stimuli that were isochronous or statistically matched to gait. One interactive stimulus had properties that are optimal for mutual entrainment as per a mathematical model of interactive periodic processes, the Kuramoto system. In particular, the stimulus was faster than the participant but also adapted its rate to a limited degree as function of phase mismatch with the participant’s steps. The second interactive stimulus fully mirrored the gait cycle hence it did not induce mutual synchronization. Furthermore, healthy participants were compared to ones with impaired gait due to Parkinson’s disease, a model disorder that makes movement more dependent on external cueing. The mutually interactive condition produced the strongest entrainment, in patients and healthy participants, without differences between groups. The stimulus adapted to each participant’s gait while maintaining a consistent lead in phase. Auditory-motor coupling may be enhanced by stimuli that are not only predictable but also interactive in that they align to self-generated movements. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)