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Memory for melodies in unfamiliar tuning systems: Investigating effects of recency and number of intervening items

Herff, S.A., Olsen, K.N., Dean, R.T. and Prince, J. (2018) Memory for melodies in unfamiliar tuning systems: Investigating effects of recency and number of intervening items. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71 (6). pp. 1367-1381.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1177/1747021817734978
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Abstract

In a continuous recognition paradigm, most stimuli elicit superior recognition performance when the item to be recognized is the most recent stimulus (a recency-in-memory effect). Furthermore, increasing the number of intervening items cumulatively disrupts memory in most domains. Memory for melodies composed in familiar tuning systems also shows superior recognition for the most recent melody, but no disruptive effects from the number of intervening melodies. A possible explanation has been offered in a novel regenerative multiple representations (RMR) conjecture. The RMR assumes that prior knowledge informs perception and perception influences memory representations. It postulates that melodies are perceived, thus also represented, simultaneously as integrated entities and also as their components (such as pitches, pitch intervals, short phrases and rhythm). Multiple representations of the melody components and melody as a whole can restore one another, thus providing resilience against disruptive effects from intervening items. The conjecture predicts that melodies in an unfamiliar tuning system are not perceived as integrated melodies and should (a) disrupt recency-in-memory advantages and (b) facilitate disruptive effects from the number of intervening items. We test these two predictions in three experiments. Experiments 1 and 2 show that no recency-in-memory effects emerge for melodies in an unfamiliar tuning system. In Experiment 3, disruptive effects occurred as the number of intervening items and unfamiliarity of the stimuli increased. Overall, results are coherent with the predictions of the RMR conjecture. Further investigation of the conjecture’s predictions may lead to greater understanding of the fundamental relationships between memory, perception and behavior.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Psychology Press
Copyright: © Experimental Psychology Society 2017
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/41125
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