Individual differences in the formation and maintenance of absolute pitch categories /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Van Hedger, Stephen Charles, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (183 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Howard C. Nusbaum Committee members: David Gallo; Berthold Hoeckner; Daniel Margoliash.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: B.
Summary:Absolute pitch (AP) is the ability to label or produce a musical note without the aid of a reference note. At first glance the acquisition of AP note categories seems like a perceptual learning task, as individuals must assign a category label to a stimulus based on a single perceptual dimension (pitch) while ignoring other perceptual dimensions. AP, however, is rarely discussed as an ability that can be acquired and sharpened through perceptual learning mechanisms. This is because AP knowledge is assumed to crystallize after a critical period of development. The current studies assess the evidence in favor of conceptualizing AP as a trainable skill by testing a specific prediction regarding cognitive capacity related to category learning -- to what extent does an individual's auditory working memory (WM) predict the success of acquiring and maintaining precise absolute pitch categories. Since WM has been shown to predict performance on a wide variety of other perceptual and category learning tasks, we predict that individuals with higher WM should be better at learning absolute pitch note categories than individuals with lower WM. Experiments 1-3 demonstrate that auditory WM significantly mediates the relationship between early musical training and AP learning. Experiment 4 demonstrates that at least some post-critical period adults, preselected for high auditory WM, can acquire AP with sufficient training. Experiment 5 demonstrates that even among a "true" AP population, auditory WM explains individual differences in AP performance, though this relationship appears to interact with overall music experience. Taken together, these results suggest that non-musical aspects of auditory WM are important in the formation and maintenance of AP categories, whether acquisition is early or late in life. Consequently, a new model of AP acquisition emphasizing a dynamic interaction between auditory WM and musical experience in the formation and maintenance of AP categories is proposed.