Marching To The Beat Of A Different Drummer

Marching to the beat of a different drummer? In the first place, marching isn’t easy. We take several years learning to walk and then fit young people spend weeks, if the join the army, learning to march around in step with their colleagues to the beat of the drum. And eventually, as we get older, neurological problems can again make marching along a difficult thing to do.

So as you walk, your motion – legs, torso, – move in a somewhat chaotic manner rather than the regular one that we imagine. The chaos get worse as we age (no surprise there). Sejdić et al decide to see how much our chaos was reduced by a metronomic cadence delivered aurally, visually or haptically (1).

Fifteen twenty-somethings were sent round a rectangular course and their natural gait logged. After that they were sent round with  backpacks full of metronomes. Of course, they weren’t all sent round at the same time or the chaos would have been wonderful to behold.

With personal metronomes linked to earphones, a light on a pole sticking out of their hat or a vibrator in their glove, the walkers walked and the regularity of their motion was logged.

Regularly flashing lights and vibrating gloves had some effect on chaos reduction in the walkers walking round their exercise yard, but the largest effect was the auditory sound beamed into their ear from their backpack feeding the earphones.

Everyone was marching to the beat of a different drummer, their own beat having been established at the start, but it would have been interesting to have had the metronomes changed and then see how successful the devices would have been in bringing the walkers into the new cadence and whether the chaos would have increased.

What fractions of their natural beat frequency would be comfortable or uncomfortable? So how easy is for people to change and start marching to the beat of a different drummer than their own?

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