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October 2021

Reaction time and musical expectancy: priming of chords

Author(s): Stoeckig, K.

Journal/Book: J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1986; 12: 403-10.

Abstract: The cognitive processes underlying musical expectation were explored by measuring reaction time in a priming paradigm. Subjects made a speeded true/false decision about a target chord following a prime chord to which it was either closely or distantly related harmonically. Using a major/minor decision task in Experiment 1, we found that major targets were identified faster, and with fewer errors, when they were related than when unrelated. An apparent absence ( and possible reversal) of this effect for minor targets can be attributed to the prime's biasing effect on the target's stability. In Experiments 2 and 3 we tested this hypothesis by employing an in-tune/out-of-tune decision for major and minor targets separately. Both major and minor in-tune targets were identified faster when related than when unrelated. We outline a spreading activation model which consists of a network of harmonic relations. Priming results from the indirect activation of chord nodes linked through the network.

Keyword(s): Auditory Perception|. Music|. Psychoacoustics|

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