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Tonal priming is resistant to changes in pitch height

Prince, J.B., Vuvan, D.T., Schmuckler, M.A. and Scott-Clark, T.T. (2015) Tonal priming is resistant to changes in pitch height. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 77 (6). pp. 2011-2020.

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Research on tonal priming has consistently shown that tonally expected events are processed more efficiently and has confirmed that the locus of the effect is cognitive rather than sensory. However, it is also important to investigate the role of pitch height, because models of tonal priming collapse across octaves, yet it is possible that pitch height may modulate the effectiveness of tonal priming. We systematically tested this issue by varying the pitch heights of a related (tonic) or a less-related (subdominant) target chord following a tonal context. Musically untrained participants (N = 30) made speeded consonant/dissonant judgments of the final chord of an eight-chord sequence. The effects of tonal priming emerged in accuracy and reaction time measures for all octaves, except for a ceiling effect on accuracy in the matching (original pitch height) condition. In a second experiment, we increased the shift to two octaves and compressed the chords to eliminate overlap between the target and context chords; again, tonal priming emerged. These findings have implications for the behavioral study of tonal priming and support the assumption of octave equivalence in computational models.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Springer
Copyright: The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2015
Notes: Available online 25 April 2015
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