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Title: Children's cognition of tonal organisation as measured by reaction time
Author: Hodges, Richard Edgar
ISNI:       0000 0004 2705 5204
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1993
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This study examined perceptual and cognitive structures that children employ when listening to musical pitches. A number of experiments utilised reaction time as the dependent variable to identify perceptually salient factors in musical pitch perception, particularly the cognitive organisation of musical pitch in a tonal context. A chronometrically measured forced-choice paired—comparisons experimental paradigm was used with children between the ages of six and eleven, with the discrimination of same and different notes in context-free and various contextual presentations tested by a computer—driven environment. Significant correlations suggest that the recognition of same and different notes in both context-free and contextual presentations was progressively facilitated, with responses exhibiting fewer errors and decreasing reaction times with increasing age. Although no significant difference was observed in mean correct reaction times between uncontextualised same and different conditions, significant differences in reaction times were observed within each condition when suffix notes were each contextualised by a major triad prefix. Furthermore, while no significant correlation was observed between same and different notes in context-free presentation, the subsequent contextualisation by a major triad prefix to each comparison suffix note produced a significant positive correlation suggesting that the contextualisation effects were systematic. A further experiment using a diminished triad prefix confirmed that the tonal specificity of the stimuli was related to the observed reaction times, with significant differences in correct reaction times for those stimuli which differed in the tonal range of their constituent pitches in relation to the circle of fifths. The observed differences in the reaction time of responses were interpreted as differential measures of the internalisation of musical pitches to a cognitive structure such as a tonal schema. The hypothesis that perceptual facilitation of the coding of redundancy within such a recognised and practised cognitive structure such as tonality was supported for children of this age.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Culture, Communication and Media