Humans with absolute pitch (AP) are able to effortlessly name the pitch class of a sound without an external reference. The association of labels with pitches cannot be entirely suppressed even if it interferes with task demands. This suggests a high level of automaticity of pitch labeling in AP. The automatic nature of AP was further investigated in a study by Rogenmoser et al. (2015). Using a passive auditory oddball paradigm in combination with electroencephalography, they observed electrophysiological differences between musicians with and without AP in response to piano tones. Specifically, the AP musicians showed a smaller P3a, an event-related potential (ERP) component presumably reflecting early attentional processes. In contrast, they did not find group differences in the mismatch negativity (MMN), an ERP component associated with auditory memory processes. They concluded that early cognitive processes are facilitated in AP during passive listening and are more important for AP than the preceding sensory processes.
In our direct replication study on a larger sample of musicians with (n = 54, 27 females, 27 males) and without (n = 50, 24 females, 26 males) AP, we successfully replicated the non-significant effects of AP on the MMN. However, we could not replicate the significant effects for the P3a. Additional Bayes factor analyses revealed moderate to strong evidence (Bayes factor > 3) for the null hypothesis for both MMN and P3a. Therefore, the results of this replication study do not support the postulated importance of cognitive facilitation in AP during passive tone listening.