Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Charles Collyer


This study investigated the role of short term memory in the motor reproduction of tempo. Seven undergraduate students participated in a finger-tapping experiment, in which retention intervals were incorporated into the classic continuation tapping paradigm. A two-way within-subjects design was employed, where subjects listen to and then attempt to reproduce a set tempo at 25 sub-second levels after retention intervals of 5 or 25 seconds. Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) software (Collyer, Boatright-Horowitz, & Hooper, 1997) was used to present stimulus tempos and record subjects tapping. Analyses of the inter-response intervals (IRls) indicated an effect of retention interval on the form of the oscillator signature (Collyer, Broadbent, & Church, 1992; 1994), the nonlinear component of temporal reproduction in continuation tapping. Of three current approaches to interval timing that were reviewed, a 'natural' time period account appeared most promising as an explanation for the retention interval effect. This account would attribute the effect to a relaxation of IRI toward a natural period of 550 - 575 ms (corresponding to a frequency just below 2 H).



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