Ritual

Lang et al. on rhythm and motor coordination

UCONN Anthropology graduate student Martin Lang with a collective of authors including Dimitris Xygalatas just published a new article in Cognitive Science about their research on rhythm and motor coordination.

Lost in the Rhythm: Effects of Rhythm on Subsequent Interpersonal Coordination


Martin Lang, Daniel J. Shaw, Paul Reddish, Sebastian Wallot, Panagiotis Mitkidis, & Dimitris Xygalatas

Music is a natural human expression present in all cultures, but the functions it serves are still debated. Previous research indicates that rhythm, an essential feature of music, can enhance coordination of movement and increase social bonding. However, the prolonged effects of rhythm have not yet been investigated. In this study, pairs of participants were exposed to one of three kinds of auditory stimuli (rhythmic, arrhythmic, or white-noise) and subsequently engaged in five trials of a joint-action task demanding interpersonal coordination. We show that when compared with the other two stimuli, exposure to the rhythmic beat reduced the practice effect in task performance. Analysis of the behavioral data suggests that this reduction results from more temporally coupled motor movements over successive trials and that shared exposure to rhythm facilitates interpersonal motor coupling, which in this context serves to impede the attainment of necessary dynamic coordination. We propose that rhythm has the potential to enhance interpersonal motor coupling, which might serve as a mechanism behind its facilitation of positive social attitudes.

Coverage of Lang et al. work in UCONN Today

UCONN Today covered a recent publication on anxiety and ritualization published in Current Biology by Martin Lang and Dimitris Xygalatas.
 

cleaning task copy
Rinse and repeat to remove anxiety

The study found stress can result in action that could help as a coping strategy to reduce anxiety, a determination that may lead to a better understanding of psychiatric disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and autism spectrum disorders.
Advances in motion sensing technology offered researchers a new way to test for a link between ritual and anxiety. Although the link has been theorized for many years in social science research, the study is the first hard evidence of a relationship between the two, according to Martin Lang, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at UConn who led the study….