- What do we need to hear a beat? The influence of attention, musical abilities, and accents on the perception of metrical rhythm
- Award date
- 8 June 2016
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Interfacultary Research Institutes
- Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)
In this dissertation, I examine beat perception, the process that allows us to make music together. I explore the effects of attention, musical abilities, and accents on beat perception. Additionally, I address several methodological issues that arise when probing beat perception with event-related potentials (ERPs).
Using a web-based setup, we show that musical training increases the sensitivity of listeners to the structure of accents in rhythm that indicates the beat. Furthermore, listeners responded qualitatively differently to different types of accents. Using a speeded detection task, we show that the influence of a perceived beat on processing of rhythmic events can be characterized both by temporal fluctuations in attention and temporal predictions.
Using EEG, we provide evidence for the presence of beat perception when attention is directed away from rhythm. In highly trained musicians we found that the P1 response, an obligatory ERP response to sound, was larger for events on the beat than off the beat. In both musically trained and untrained participants, unexpected silences and intensity decreases elicited larger mismatch negativity (MMN) and P3a responses on the beat than off the beat, even when attention was not directed at a rhythm.
Throughout this dissertation, I show the importance of differentiating between beat perception and other factors that may influence ERP responses, such as acoustic variation and statistical learning of a sound sequence. Finally, I propose that beat perception can be regarded as an ability that consists of several different mechanisms that together allow us to synchronize to music.
- Author's name on the cover: Fleur L. Bouwer-Odijk
Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
Series: ILLC dissertation series DS-2016-03
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