The Impact of Expected Auditory Feedback

            Imagery is one of the most useful tools in the field of performance psychology.  Keller, Dalla Bella, & Koch (2010) used a motion capture system to determine the relationship between anticipated auditory feedback and performance of a fine motor task.  The way in which this was measured was by giving the participants a pattern of tones triggered by keys and asking them to repeat the pattern.  The conclusion was that auditory feedback increased accuracy to the initial pattern but decreased the amount of forced used by respondents.

            The reason this finding is meaningful is that it helps us gain a deeper understanding of the link between anticipated feedback and performance.  This research would be most useful for an individual working with rhythmic performers such as musicians and dancers.  The study found that performance was most accurate and least forceful when the responsorial tones were in unison with movements by the respondent.  How this study becomes applicable is interesting.  The conclusion is that when a person knows they will receive immediate confirmation of the performance they tend to be more accurate.  However, given the same conditions their dependency on tactile feedback becomes lessened.

            This study provides further evidence to the value of imagery.  Imagery has long been utilized as a tool for enhancing athletic performance but based on this study it may be just as effective for enhancing rhythmic performances.  It is surprising to find that one of our greatest tools may be even more applicable than we thought.

Pat Kenny

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