Multi-layer adaptation of group coordination in musical ensembles.


IIT@UniFe Center for Translational Neurophysiology of Speech and Communication, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Ferrara, Italy. [Email]


Group coordination passes through an efficient integration of multimodal sources of information. This study examines complex non-verbal communication by recording movement kinematics from conductors and two sections of violinists of an orchestra adapting to a perturbation affecting their normal pattern of sensorimotor communication (rotation of half a turn of the first violinists' section). We show that different coordination signals are channeled through ancillary (head kinematics) and instrumental movements (bow kinematics). Each one of them affect coordination either at the inter-group or intra-group levels, therefore tapping into different modes of cooperation: complementary versus imitative coordination. Our study suggests that the co-regulation of group behavior is based on the exchange of information across several layers, each one of them tuned to carry specific coordinative signals. Multi-layer sensorimotor communication may be the key musicians and, more generally humans, use to flexibly communicate between each other in interactive sensorimotor tasks.