An investigation of spatial representation of pitch in individuals with congenital amusia

Xuejing Lu*, Yanan Sun, William Forde Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Spatial representation of pitch plays a central role in auditory processing. However, it is unknown whether impaired auditory processing is associated with impaired pitch–space mapping. Experiment 1 examined spatial representation of pitch in individuals with congenital amusia using a stimulus–response compatibility (SRC) task. For amusic and non-amusic participants, pitch classification was faster and more accurate when correct responses involved a physical action that was spatially congruent with the pitch height of the stimulus than when it was incongruent. However, this spatial representation of pitch was not as stable in amusic individuals, revealed by slower response times when compared with control individuals. One explanation is that the SRC effect in amusics reflects a linguistic association, requiring additional time to link pitch height and spatial location. To test this possibility, Experiment 2 employed a colour-classification task. Participants judged colour while ignoring a concurrent pitch by pressing one of two response keys positioned vertically to be congruent or incongruent with the pitch. The association between pitch and space was found in both groups, with comparable response times in the two groups, suggesting that amusic individuals are only slower to respond to tasks involving explicit judgments of pitch.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1867-1877
Number of pages11
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Volume70
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • congenital amusia
  • pitch perception
  • spatial representation
  • stimulus–response compatibility effect

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