Sensorimotor mechanisms in music performance: actions that go partially wrong

Caroline Palmer, Brian Mathias, Maxwell Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Even expert musicians make errors occasionally, and overt responses that are correct may be accompanied by partial-error behavior that can be indicative of online error detection processes. We compare pianists' production of correct pitches, pitch errors, and partial errors (correct pitches with incorrect force or duration) by examining events prior to errors. Errors tended to be produced with slower durations and softer intensities (associated with force reduction) than correct events. In addition, pre-error events tended to have durations and intensities that fell between those of errors and correct responses, presumably due to response competition with upcoming errors that resulted in partial-error outcomes. These findings support the inference that partial information about upcoming (planned) sequence events is used to guide current responses, consistent with cascade models of activation during sequence production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-91
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2012

Bibliographical note

© 2012 New York Academy of Sciences.


  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Models, Psychological
  • Music/psychology
  • Neurosciences
  • Pitch Perception/physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance/physiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis


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