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Title: Comparing short-term memory for sequences of verbal and tonal materials
Author: Williamson, Victoria Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 8509
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2008
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A long standing debate surrounds the issue of whether there is overlap in the cognitive processing of language and music. This thesis examined the extent to which there are similarities in the immediate serial recall (ISR) of verbal and tonal pitch sequences using the working memory model as the empirical framework. The thesis had three aims. The first was to develop an ISR task that would allow individuals of any level of musical training to report back sequences of tones and letters. The second aim was to compare letter and tone sequence recall performance under various conditions known to affect ISR for auditory-verbal materials. The third aim was to examine performance as a function of musical expertise. Nine experiments were conducted in total. The first six experiments tested, refined and validated the new ISR tone paradigm. The final three experiments compared musicians and nonmusicians letter and tone sequence recall using manipulations known to affect ISR for auditory-verbal items; phonological similarity (pitch proximity used for tone recall), articulatory suppression and irrelevant sound. Similarities across the results included comparable sequence length effects for letter and tone conditions, an effect of pitch proximity and phonological similarity for nonmusicians, and effects of articulatory suppression on recall of both sequence types for both groups. However, there were also a number of differences in tone recall compared to letter recall including a lack of recency and no effect of irrelevant sound. Therefore, a complete theoretical overlap between language and music processing in short-term memory was not supported by the evidence. The problems of equivalent testing across the language and music domain, and across populations of varying musical expertise were discussed. It was suggested that increased understanding of how cognitive resources are shared to process language and music in the brain would come from future research combining behavioural experiments with functional models and neuroimaging studies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available