Melodic expectations in 5- to 6-year-old children

Politimou, Nina, Douglass-Kirk, Pedro, Pearce, Marcus, Stewart, Lauren and Franco, Fabia ORCID logoORCID: (2021) Melodic expectations in 5- to 6-year-old children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 203 , 105020. ISSN 0022-0965 [Article] (doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2020.105020)

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It has been argued that children implicitly acquire the rules relating to the structure of music in their environment, using domain-general mechanisms such as statistical learning. Closely linked to statistical learning is the ability to form expectations about future events. Whether children as young as 5 years can make use of such internalized regularities to form expectations about the next note in a melody is still unclear. The possible effect of the home musical environment on the strength of musical expectations has also been under-explored. Using a newly developed melodic priming task that included melodies with either “expected” or “unexpected” endings according to rules of Western music theory, we tested 5-and 6-year old children (N = 46). The stimuli in this task were constructed using the Information Dynamics Of Music or IDyOM system, a probabilistic model estimating the level of “unexpectedness” of a note given the preceding context. Results showed that responses to expected versus unexpected tones were faster and more accurate indicating that children have already formed robust melodic expectations at the age of 5. Aspects of the home musical environment significantly predicted the strength of melodic expectations suggesting that implicit musical learning may be influenced by the quantity of informal exposure to the surrounding musical environment.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Auditory perception development, Expectations, Home musical environment, Implicit musical learning, Melody, Priming
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Language, Learning and Cognition group
Item ID: 31257
Notes on copyright: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Fabia Franco
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2020 12:55
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 17:59

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