In this study, we investigated the degree to which genetics and environmental factors influence the tempo and tempo stability of rhythmic motor activity in young children, using a twin study design. A total of 116 twin children, aged 4 years, were asked to strike two small clash cymbals together in a cyclical manner, in three phases. In the first phase, children were asked to maintain a comfortable personal tempo of rhythmic motor activity (spontaneous motor phase). In contrast, in the other phases, children were required to synchronize rhythmic motor activity in response to the timing of a stimulus tone, or a memorized tempo. Large additive genetic, although negligible shared environmental influences, were observed in the spontaneous motor phase. However, environmental factors were estimated in the other two phases, while the additive genetic factor was nearly zero. These results indicate that the extent of genetic and environmental influences on individual differences in rhythmic motor activity can be modulated under different situations.
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