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Auditory aversion in absolute pitch possessors


Rogenmoser, Lars; Li, Hui Charles; Jäncke, Lutz; Schlaug, Gottfried (2020). Auditory aversion in absolute pitch possessors. Cortex, 135:285-297.

Abstract

Absolute pitch (AP) refers to the ability of identifying the pitch of a given tone without reliance on any reference pitch. The downside of possessing AP may be the experience of disturbance when exposed to out-of-tune tones. Here, we investigated this so-far unexplored phenomenon in AP, which we refer to as auditory aversion. Electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded in a sample of AP possessors and matched control musicians without AP while letting them perform a task underlying a so-called affective priming paradigm: Participants judged valenced pictures preceded by musical primes as quickly and accurately as possible. The primes were bimodal, presented as tones in combination with visual notations that either matched or mismatched the actually presented tone. Both samples performed better in judging unpleasant pictures over pleasant ones. In comparison with the control musicians, the AP possessors revealed a more profound discrepancy between the two valence conditions, and their EEG revealed later peaks at around 200 ms (P200) after prime onset. Their performance dropped when responding to pleasant pictures preceded by incongruent primes, especially when mistuned by one semitone. This interference was also reflected in an EEG deflection at around 400 ms (N400) after picture onset, preceding the behavior responses. These findings suggest that AP possessors process mistuned musical stimuli and pleasant pictures as affectively unrelated with each other, supporting an aversion towards out-of-tune tones in AP possessors. The longer prime-related P200 latencies exhibited by AP possessors suggest a delay in integrating musical stimuli, underlying an altered affinity towards pitch-label associations.

Abstract

Absolute pitch (AP) refers to the ability of identifying the pitch of a given tone without reliance on any reference pitch. The downside of possessing AP may be the experience of disturbance when exposed to out-of-tune tones. Here, we investigated this so-far unexplored phenomenon in AP, which we refer to as auditory aversion. Electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded in a sample of AP possessors and matched control musicians without AP while letting them perform a task underlying a so-called affective priming paradigm: Participants judged valenced pictures preceded by musical primes as quickly and accurately as possible. The primes were bimodal, presented as tones in combination with visual notations that either matched or mismatched the actually presented tone. Both samples performed better in judging unpleasant pictures over pleasant ones. In comparison with the control musicians, the AP possessors revealed a more profound discrepancy between the two valence conditions, and their EEG revealed later peaks at around 200 ms (P200) after prime onset. Their performance dropped when responding to pleasant pictures preceded by incongruent primes, especially when mistuned by one semitone. This interference was also reflected in an EEG deflection at around 400 ms (N400) after picture onset, preceding the behavior responses. These findings suggest that AP possessors process mistuned musical stimuli and pleasant pictures as affectively unrelated with each other, supporting an aversion towards out-of-tune tones in AP possessors. The longer prime-related P200 latencies exhibited by AP possessors suggest a delay in integrating musical stimuli, underlying an altered affinity towards pitch-label associations.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:5 December 2020
Deposited On:28 Jan 2021 10:32
Last Modified:09 Feb 2021 21:46
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0010-9452
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2020.11.020
PubMed ID:33421728

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