Discovering my internal rhythm – a pilot study

I decided to perform an experiment to discover my internal rhythm. I wondered how “linear” my mind experienced time when I closed my eyes. Therefore, I tried rhythmical tapping using my mouse button while having my eyes closed. I wondered if the pace of my rhythm would change over time due to the changes within the rhythm itself. You could assume that time could evoke a change in pace, which changes the pace of the overall rhythm. However, you could also argue that the pace is resilient against external perturbations, and therefore the pace would return to the initial pace after a perturbation. I had no clue, so the only thing I could do was to experiment myself.

I set up this timer, used the “laps function” closed my eyes, and started clicking my mouse on different tempo’s. I started with a self-initiated normal tempo, and performed five trials. After that, I performed three fast trials, and at last I performed three slow speed trials. I did not define the speed of normal, fast, and slow at the start of the experiment, these speeds emerged from the initial click(s). The duration of each trial was also not defined, but most trials lasted about a minute. Below you can find my results.

Table 1. Average duration per click “beat”, standard deviation, and normalized standard deviation ((A/StD)*100)) of each trial, ordered on average duration
My internal rhythms with on the X-axes the number of trials, and on the Y-axes the amount of time of the whole trial












What to learn

Deviation from the rhythm over trials
In the graph you can find freakishly straight lines across the slow, normal, and fast trials. The linearity of the lines is staggering. From the start there was hardly no deviation from the rhythm and the tempo was followed across the full trial. The difference between slow, normal, and fast tempo’s is clearly visible although the actual speeds weren’t defined at forehand. Furthermore, if you try to find all the five “normal tempo lines” in the graph, you find that the “normal lines 2,3, and 4” are almost synchronous to each other.

Deviation across rhythm duration “beat”
When we look at the averages and standard deviations (table 1). We see that that the longer the average duration per click “the beat”, the higher the standard deviation becomes. At first sight, this would imply that my feeling for rhythm would be more off the slower the rhythm. However, if you normalize the standard deviation with the average of each rhythm, this pattern dissolves. Thus, while my absolute deviation increased with the duration of a “beat”, the relative deviation remained the same size. However, it should be mentioned that in this experiment the trial length (and thus the number of data-points) differed across the tempo’s, and the total amount of trials taken is relatively low. So we need to be cautious with interpreting these results.

In future experiments, it would be interesting to deviate with faster and slower rhythms, more & longer trials, and external perturbations to discover rhythm strength.

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