Perceptual constraints on frequency ratio performance in motor-respiratory coordination

Laura M. Gonzales, Eric E. Hessler, Polemnia Amazeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In motor-respiratory coordination, people typically maintain frequency ratios that are from lower levels of a mathematical structure known as the Farey tree. A hypothesized mechanism for motor-respiratory coordination is the visceral piston (Bramble & Carrier, 1983)-mechanical loading of the lungs due to footfalls, for example, imposes a rhythm on breathing. The occurrence of motor-respiratory coordination in exercises in which there is no visceral piston (e.g., bicycling and wheelchair propulsion) implies that there are other mechanisms. We examined whether there is a perceptual basis for motor-respiratory coordination. In Experiment 1, participants viewed simulated ratios side by side and, in a forced-choice paradigm, judged whether they were the same or different. In Experiment 2, participants performed ratios using feedback displays in which different ratios looked either the same or different. Lower level ratios were less likely than higher level ratios to be confused with other ratios. Ratios that could be distinguished perceptually were performed more accurately and less variably than ratios that appeared the same.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalEcological Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Computer Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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