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The integration of stimulus dimensions in the perception of music

Prince, J.B.ORCID: 0000-0002-8267-9963 (2011) The integration of stimulus dimensions in the perception of music. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64 (11). pp. 2125-2152.

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A central aim of cognitive psychology is to explain how we integrate stimulus dimensions into a unified percept, but how the dimensions of pitch and time combine in the perception of music remains a largely unresolved issue. The goal of this study was to test the effect of varying the degree of conformity to dimensional structure in pitch and time (specifically, tonality and metre) on goodness ratings and classifications of melodies. The pitches and durations of melodies were either presented in their original order, as a reordered sequence, or replaced with random elements. Musically trained and untrained participants (24 each) rated melodic goodness, attending selectively to the dimensions of pitch, time, or both. Also, 24 trained participants classified whether or not the melodies were tonal, metric, or both. Pitch and temporal manipulations always influenced responses, but participants successfully emphasized either dimension in accordance with instructions. Effects of pitch and time were mostly independent for selective attention conditions, but more interactive when evaluating both dimensions. When interactions occurred, the effect of either dimension increased as the other dimension conformed more to its original structure. Relative main effect sizes ({pipe} pitch η 2 - time η 2 {pipe}) predicted the strength of pitch-time interactions (pitch × time η 2); interactions were stronger when main effect sizes were more evenly matched. These results have implications for dimensional integration in several domains. Relative main effect size could serve as an indicator of dimensional salience, such that interactions are more likely when dimensions are equally salient.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
Publisher: Psychology Press
Copyright: © 2011 The Experimental Psychology Society
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