Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

A Tablet-Based Assessment of Rhythmic Ability.


The exponential rise in use of mobile consumer electronics has presented a great potential for research to be conducted remotely, with participants numbering several orders of magnitude greater than a typical research paradigm. Here, we attempt to demonstrate the validity and reliability of using a consumer game-engine to create software presented on a mobile tablet to assess sensorimotor synchronization, a proxy of rhythmic ability. Our goal was to ascertain whether previously observed research results can be replicated, rather than assess whether a mobile tablet achieves comparable performance to a desktop computer. To achieve this, younger (aged 18-35 years) and older (aged 60-80 years) adult musicians and non-musicians were recruited to play a custom-designed sensorimotor synchronization assessment on a mobile tablet in a controlled laboratory environment. To assess reliability, participants performed the assessment twice, separated by a week, and an intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) was calculated. Results supported the validity of this approach to assessing rhythmic abilities by replicating previously observed results. Specifically, musicians performed better than non-musicians, and younger adults performed better than older adults. Participants also performed best when the tempo was in the range of previously-identified preferred tempos, when the stimuli included both audio and visual information, and when synchronizing on-beat compared to off-beat or continuation (self-paced) synchronization. Additionally, high ICC values (>0.75) suggested excellent test-retest reliability. Together, these results support the notion that consumer electronics running software built with a game engine may serve as a valuable resource for remote, mobile-based data collection of rhythmic abilities.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View