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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 6/2017

12-10-2016 | Original Article

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

Auteurs: Sibylla Wolter, Carolin Dudschig, Barbara Kaup

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 6/2017

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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.
Voetnoten
1
The compatibility effect was not affected by the switch of response mapping (‘sensible right’ vs. ‘sensible left’) nor by the repetition of blocks 1 and 2.
 
2
Importantly, data interpretation was not affected by this exclusion. The analyses with and without the problematic item showed qualitatively similar results.
 
3
The group of non-musicians is most likely a less homogeneous group than the group of pianists, and might therefore have higher error variability. To account for this issue, we log-transformed the data (see e.g., Keppel & Wickens, 2004; Winter, 2013) and ran an additional ANOVA (including the same factors) with logRTs. The analyses showed qualitatively similar results to the analyses with untransformed RTs (Interaction between group and compatibility: F 1 (1,78) = 6.11, p = 0.01; F 2 (1,117) = 3.5, p = 0.06, Post-hoc tests for pianists: F 1 (1,39) = 7.9, p = 0.008; F 2 (1,117) = 5.9, p = 0.02; Post-hoc tests for non-musicians: F S < 1).
 
4
Additionally, we performed a mixed effect modeling analysis using R and lme4 (Bates, Maechler, Bolker, & Walker, 2014). As fixed effects we entered compatibility and group into the model. As random effects we had random intercepts for subjects and items as well as by-subject random slopes for the effect of compatibility and by-item random slopes for the effect of compatibility and group. In a first step, we compared this model M0 to a model M1, which additionally included the effect of interest, i.e., the interaction between compatibility and group. The results of the likelihood ratio tests confirmed the findings from the ANOVAs: Model M1 explained the data significantly better than model M0 [χ 2(1) = 3.9, p < 0.05]. We again ran separate mixed effect modeling analyses for the group of pianists and non-musicians. For the group of pianists, the model containing the compatibility effect explained the data significantly better [χ 2(5) = 15.16, p = 0.01], which was not the case for the group of non-musicians [χ 2(5) = 6.31, p = 0.28].
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Reading sentences describing high- or low-pitched auditory events: only pianists show evidence for a horizontal space-pitch association
Auteurs
Sibylla Wolter
Carolin Dudschig
Barbara Kaup
Publicatiedatum
12-10-2016
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 6/2017
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-016-0812-z