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12-10-2016 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2017

Psychological Research 6/2017

Reading sentences describing high- or low-pitched auditory events: only pianists show evidence for a horizontal space-pitch association

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research > Uitgave 6/2017
Auteurs:
Sibylla Wolter, Carolin Dudschig, Barbara Kaup
Belangrijke opmerkingen
This work was supported by a research grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) to Barbara Kaup and Hartmut Leuthold (SFB 833, project B4).

Abstract

This study explored differences between pianists and non-musicians during reading of sentences describing high- or low-pitched auditory events. Based on the embodied model of language comprehension, it was hypothesized that the experience of playing the piano encourages a corresponding association between high-pitched sounds and the right and low-pitched sounds and the left. This pitch-space association is assumed to become elicited during understanding of sentences describing either a high- or low-pitched auditory event. In this study, pianists and non-musicians were tested based on the hypothesis that only pianists show a compatibility effect between implied pitch height and horizontal space, because only pianists have the corresponding experience with the piano keyboard. Participants read pitch-related sentences (e.g., the bear growls deeply, the soprano singer sings an aria) and judged whether the sentence was sensible or not by pressing either a left or right response key. The results indicated that only the pianists showed the predicted compatibility effect between implied pitch height and response location. Based on the results, it can be inferred that the experience of playing the piano led to an association between horizontal space and pitch height in pianists, while no such spatial association was elicited in non-musicians.

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