Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rhythm and prominence: The place of effective haptic anchoring

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
I have been aware of the "Interactive Metronome" program, linked above, for several years. For a number of conditions it has been used very successfully. (The promo says that there are over 20,000 certified trainers!) It uses a combination of audio input of a rhythmic beep, along with hand clapping and feet tapping for steps, for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. I was asked if it fit within the HICP framework of haptic procedures. Yes and no.

On the one hand (no pun intended) it does involve movement and touch. In general, however, I am not a proponent of hand clapping and repetitious foot tapping for anything other than just getting the "feel" of the rhythm of speaking. I do not recommend tapping out or clapping out the syllables of a word or phrase, for example, as the primary technique for anchoring prominence (word or phrasal stress). One reason for that relates to the research reported earlier on the blog focusing on the nature of tactile and kinaesthetic memory. Tactile memory, relative to audio and video memory, for example, tends to be more easily "overwritten," or sensitive to cross-modal competition. In other words, another anchor or distraction in the same "vicinity" will, in effect, be more likely to "erase," downgrade or get confounded with the earlier one.

What that implies is that a pedagogical movement pattern (PMP) that attempts to anchor stressed syllables haptically in one area of the body and unstressed syllables in another, for instance, should be more effective than simple, repetitive clapping of hands or tapping of feet, which tries to anchor or write in both stressed and non-stressed on the same location. The rhythmic practice versions of four EHIEP protocols do that in using a regular rhythm "tempo," not all that different from a metronome. (I sometimes do use a metronome with learners who do not have much of a felt sense of rhythm--of any kind!) The body location combinations are: deltoid--elbow, hand touch--outside hip, index finger tap--to center palm or fingernails to center palm in various positions in the visual field. No excessive applause or foot stomping to "get" attention for prominence needed--or all that effective either!

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