Deviations from mirroring in interpersonal multifrequency coordination when visual information is occluded

Jamie C. Gorman, Polemnia Amazeen, Michael J. Crites, Christina L. Gipson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In activities such as dancing and sports, people synchronize behaviors in many different ways. Synchronization between people has traditionally been characterized as either perfect mirroring (1:1 in-phase synchronization, spontaneous synchrony, and mimicry) or reflectional mirroring (1:1 antiphase synchronization), but most activities require partners to synchronize more complicated patterns. We asked visually coupled dyads to coordinate finger movements to perform multifrequency ratios (1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, and 5:1). Because these patterns are coordinated across and not just within individual physiological and motor systems, we based our predictions on frequency-locking dynamics, which is a general coordination principle that is not limited to physiological explanations. Twenty dyads performed five multifrequency ratios under three levels of visual coupling, with half using a subcritical visual information update rate. The dynamical principle was supported, such that multifrequency performance tends to abide by the strictures of frequency locking. However, these constraints are relaxed if the visual information rate is beyond the critical information update rate. An analysis of turning points in the oscillatory finger movements suggested that dyads did not rely on this visual information to stabilize coordination. How the laboratory findings align with naturalistic observations of multifrequency performance in actual sports teams (Double Dutch) is discussed. Frequency-locking accounts not only for the human propensity for perfect mirroring but also for variations in performance when dyads deviate from mirroring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1221
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Dynamics
  • Groups
  • Perceptual coupling
  • Rhythmic movement
  • Teams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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