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A reevaluation of the electrophysiological correlates of absolute pitch and relative pitch: No evidence for an absolute pitch-specific negativity


Leipold, Simon; Oderbolz, Chantal; Greber, Marielle; Jäncke, Lutz (2019). A reevaluation of the electrophysiological correlates of absolute pitch and relative pitch: No evidence for an absolute pitch-specific negativity. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 137:21-31.

Abstract

Musicians with absolute pitch effortlessly identify the pitch of a sound without an external reference. Previous neuroscientific studies on absolute pitch have typically had small samples sizes and low statistical power, making them susceptible for false positive findings. In a seminal study, Itoh et al. (2005) reported the elicitation of an absolute pitch-specific event-related potential component during tone listening - the AP negativity. Additionally, they identified several components as correlates of relative pitch, the ability to identify relations between pitches. Here, we attempted to replicate the main findings of Itoh et al.'s study in a large sample of musicians (n = 104) using both frequentist and Bayesian inference. We were not able to replicate the presence of an AP negativity during tone listening in individuals with high levels of absolute pitch, but we partially replicated the findings concerning the correlates of relative pitch. Our results are consistent with several previous studies reporting an absence of differences between musicians with and without absolute pitch in early auditory evoked potential components. We conclude that replication studies form a crucial part in assessing extraordinary findings, even more so in small fields where a single finding can have a large impact on further research.

Abstract

Musicians with absolute pitch effortlessly identify the pitch of a sound without an external reference. Previous neuroscientific studies on absolute pitch have typically had small samples sizes and low statistical power, making them susceptible for false positive findings. In a seminal study, Itoh et al. (2005) reported the elicitation of an absolute pitch-specific event-related potential component during tone listening - the AP negativity. Additionally, they identified several components as correlates of relative pitch, the ability to identify relations between pitches. Here, we attempted to replicate the main findings of Itoh et al.'s study in a large sample of musicians (n = 104) using both frequentist and Bayesian inference. We were not able to replicate the presence of an AP negativity during tone listening in individuals with high levels of absolute pitch, but we partially replicated the findings concerning the correlates of relative pitch. Our results are consistent with several previous studies reporting an absence of differences between musicians with and without absolute pitch in early auditory evoked potential components. We conclude that replication studies form a crucial part in assessing extraordinary findings, even more so in small fields where a single finding can have a large impact on further research.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:March 2019
Deposited On:26 Jun 2019 11:48
Last Modified:17 Sep 2019 20:25
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0167-8760
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2018.12.016
PubMed ID:30610912
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID320030_163149
  • : Project TitleDie neuronalen Grundlagen des absoluten Gehörs und der Ton-Farbsynästhesie: Zwei Seiten einer Medaille?

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