Tapping performance and underlying wrist muscle activity of non-drummers, drummers, and the world's fastest drummer

Laboratory of Human Motor Control, Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Yoshida-nihonmatsu-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.
Neuroscience Letters (Impact Factor: 2.03). 06/2009; 459(2):69-73. DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.04.055
Source: PubMed


Studies of rapid unimanual tapping have assumed that the human rate limit for voluntary rhythmic movement is 5-7 Hz, which corresponds to an inter-tap interval (ITI) of 150-200ms. In fact, the winner of a recent contest to find the world's fastest drummer (WFD) can perform such movements using a handheld drumstick at 10 Hz, which corresponds to an ITI of 100 ms. Because the contest measured only the number of taps by the WFD, we examined the stability of the ITI and the underlying wrist muscle activity of the WFD. By comparing the performance and wrist muscle activity of the WFD with those of two control groups (non-drummers (NDs) and ordinary skilled drummers (ODs)), we found that the WFD had a relatively stable ITI and more pronounced reciprocal wrist muscle activity during the 10-Hz performance. Our result indicates that very fast, stable tapping performance can be achieved by keeping the wrist joint compliant rather than stiff.

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