ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (3): 623-634.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00623

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Interpersonal motor synchronization in children

ZHANG Linlin1,2, WEI Kunlin3, LI Jing1,2()   

  1. 1CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100080, China
  • Received:2021-04-13 Online:2022-03-15 Published:2022-01-25
  • Contact: LI Jing


Interpersonal motor synchronization refers to the simultaneous and consistent actions of an individual toward others in the process of social interaction. It is like a "social glue" that can promote more pro-social behaviors in children. This paper focuses on the interpersonal motor synchronization in children, explores the development trajectory of children's interpersonal motor synchronization and its influencing factors through literature review. In particular, the paper discussed the atypical interpersonal motor synchronization among a specific group of children, namely those with autism.

Although humans have acquired certain form of rhythm perception ability in early infancy, it takes six to seven years to synchronize rhythm and movement perfectly. The accuracy and stability of the interpersonal motor synchronization in children improve as they grow. In the development process, children's synchronization performance is affected by two major aspects. The first factor is that in the context of the laboratory, children’s synchronization performance is affected by their motor effectors (finger, head, feet, etc.), rhythmic stimulation types (such as visual stimulation, auditory stimulation), and synchronization objects (such as robots, adults, and children). The second factor is that children’s synchronization performance is restricted by cognitive factors, including time perception, motor planning, and motor execution. That is, in the process of interpersonal motor synchronization, children need to obtain cues from the environment and peers to form rhythm perception and time perception; in addition, they also need to plan their own actions, and at the same time anticipate the results of their own actions; At the same time, monitor the other party's behavioral responses, and adjust their own movement and rhythm perception accordingly to the synchronization of both parties, so as to better keep pace with others. Therefore, if an individual wants to achieve good synchronization performance, he must have a good time perception and rhythm perception ability, being able to expect the consequences of his own actions in advance, minimize motor noise during the motor execution and perform accordingly to the synchronization of both parties.

The core symptoms of autistic children are social interaction defects and communication disorders. The interpersonal motor synchronization of this group shows atypical characteristics, that is, the level of spontaneous synchronization is lower and the synchronization performance is worse. The defect of time processing and the abnormality of the movement system may be the potential restricting factors of the difficulty of interpersonal movement synchronization in this group. To clarify the similarities and differences in the interpersonal motor synchronization between autistic children and typical children not only can help us understand the development trajectory of children's interpersonal movement synchronization but also inspire the practical application and intervention effect of interpersonal motor synchronization in autistic children.

Future research needs to further explore the following issues: (1) The influence of motor ability on the interpersonal motor synchronization in children; (2) The influence of interpersonal and non-interpersonal factors on the synchronized movement among autistic children; (3) Explore the reason behind high failure rate of interpersonal motor synchronization interventions in the autistic group.

Key words: interpersonal motor synchronization, prosocial, cognitive mechanism, autism spectrum disorders

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