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Nobuyuki Inui and Takuya Ichihara

To examine the relation between timing and force control during finger tapping sequences by both pianists and nonpianists, participants lapped a force plate connected to strain gauges. A series of finger tapping tasks consisted of 16 combinations of pace (intertap interval: 180. 200, 400. or 800 ms) and peak force (50, 100. 200. or 400 g). Analysis showed that, although movement timing was independent of force control under low or medium pace conditions, there were strong interactions between the 2 parameters under high pace conditions. The results indicate that participants adapted the movement by switching from separately controlling these parameters in the slow and moderate movement to coupling them in the fast movement. While variations in intertap interval affected force production by nonpianists. they had little effect for pianists. The ratios of time-to-peak force to press duration increased linearly in pianists but varied irregularly in nonpianists, as the required force decreased. Thus, pianists regulate peak force by timing control of peak force to press duration, suggesting that training affects the relationship between the 2 parameters.