Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Craig Speelman

Abstract

The present study investigated the existence of repetition priming for melody and the extent to which that priming would be affected by the manipulation of frequency. A group of 62 university students and 2 members of the public listened to 20 high frequency and 20 low frequency melodies in the first phase of a repetition priming experiment. Participants were required to name as many melodies as they could as quickly as possible. The same melodies were then re-presented immediately in the second phase of the experiment along with another group of 40 melodies matched in frequency to those in the first phase, and participants were required to perform the same task. Mean reaction times were measured for each melody' across participants and repetition priming differences were calculated by comparing phase 2 reaction times for melodies presented only in the second phase (‘new’ melodies) with those presented in both phases ('old' melodies). Mean percent correct responses were also computed and comparisons made between all four phase 2 conditions based on frequency and presentation. Reaction times demonstrated a significantly faster and more accurate performance for "old' than for 'new’ melodies in the second phase. Priming differences between ‘old' and new’ melodies were also compared as a function of frequency, and there was some suggestion in the data of greater priming for low than for high frequency melodies. The findings of the study generally echo those found in lexical decision experiments performed with words. Although there clearly are differences in the mental processing of music compared to language, the results of the experiment provide support for the argument that the principles that govern cognition for language also apply to cognition for music.

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