Title

Melody recognition at fast and slow tempos: Effects of age, experience, and familiarity

Publication Date

2008

Journal

Perception & Psychophysics

Volume

70

Issue

3

First Page

496

Last Page

502

Abstract

Eighty-one listeners defined by three age ranges (18–30, 31–59, and over 60 years) and three levels of musical experience performed an immediate recognition task requiring the detection of alterations in melodies. On each trial, a brief melody was presented, followed 5 sec later by a test stimulus that either was identical to the target or had two pitches changed, for a same–different judgment. Each melody pair was presented at 0.6 note/sec, 3.0 notes/sec, or 6.0 notes/sec. Performance was better with familiar melodies than with unfamiliar melodies. Overall performance declined slightly with age and improved substantially with increasing experience, in agreement with earlier results in an identification task. Tempo affected performance on familiar tunes (moderate was best), but not on unfamiliar tunes. We discuss these results in terms of theories of dynamic attending, cognitive slowing, and working memory in aging.

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