Using fast tapping tasks with each of the four fingers (single-finger tapping) and with two of the fingers used alternately (double-finger tapping), the ability to make rapid tapping movement by the individual fingers was compared between expert pianists and nonmusician controls in both genders. Maximal pinch and grasp forces were also measured to assess strength of individual fingers and whole hand, respectively. Movement of the ring and little fingers was slower than that of the index and middle fingers in both the pianists and controls. The slowness of the ring and little fingers was, however, much less evident in the pianists than the controls in both tapping tasks. The pianists also had smaller intertap interval variability for the index and middle fingers. No pianist–control difference was found for the pinch and grasp forces. Piano training, therefore, effectively changed the ability to move individual fingers rapidly, but not their flexor strength. No gender difference was found in any of the tapping tasks though males had greater strength. Gender thus does not appear to be a factor differentiating the ability to move individual fingers rapidly.
The authors are with the Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University, 1-2 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan. Kinoshita is also with the university’s School of Health and Sport Sciences.