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An empirical reevaluation of absolute pitch: behavioral and electrophysiological measurements


Elmer, Stefan; Sollberger, Silja; Meyer, Martin; Jäncke, Lutz (2013). An empirical reevaluation of absolute pitch: behavioral and electrophysiological measurements. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25(10):1736-1753.

Abstract

Here, we reevaluated the "two-component" model of absolute pitch (AP) by combining behavioral and electrophysiological measurements. This specific model postulates that AP is driven by a perceptual encoding ability (i.e., pitch memory) plus an associative memory component (i.e., pitch labeling). To test these predictions, during EEG measurements, AP and non-AP (NAP) musicians were passively exposed to piano tones (first component of the model) and additionally instructed to judge whether combinations of tones and labels were conceptually associated or not (second component of the model). Auditory-evoked N1/P2 potentials did not reveal differences between the two groups, thus indicating that AP is not necessarily driven by a differential pitch encoding ability at the processing level of the auditory cortex. Otherwise, AP musicians performed the conceptual association task with an order of magnitude better accuracy and shorter RTs than NAP musicians did, this result clearly pointing to distinctive conceptual associations in AP possessors. Most notably, this behavioral superiority was reflected by an increased N400 effect and accompanied by a subsequent late positive component, the latter not being distinguishable in NAP musicians.

Abstract

Here, we reevaluated the "two-component" model of absolute pitch (AP) by combining behavioral and electrophysiological measurements. This specific model postulates that AP is driven by a perceptual encoding ability (i.e., pitch memory) plus an associative memory component (i.e., pitch labeling). To test these predictions, during EEG measurements, AP and non-AP (NAP) musicians were passively exposed to piano tones (first component of the model) and additionally instructed to judge whether combinations of tones and labels were conceptually associated or not (second component of the model). Auditory-evoked N1/P2 potentials did not reveal differences between the two groups, thus indicating that AP is not necessarily driven by a differential pitch encoding ability at the processing level of the auditory cortex. Otherwise, AP musicians performed the conceptual association task with an order of magnitude better accuracy and shorter RTs than NAP musicians did, this result clearly pointing to distinctive conceptual associations in AP possessors. Most notably, this behavioral superiority was reflected by an increased N400 effect and accompanied by a subsequent late positive component, the latter not being distinguishable in NAP musicians.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:DoktoratPsych
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:22 May 2013 09:48
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 21:13
Publisher:MIT Press
ISSN:0898-929X
Additional Information:Copyright: MIT Press
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_00410
PubMed ID:23647515

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