University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
Sensory auditory processing and intuitive sound detection
an investigation of musical experts and nonexperts
Titia van Zuijen
Doctoral dissertation, October 2006.
The auditory system can detect occasional changes (deviants) in acoustic regularities without the need for subjects to focus their attention on the sound material. Deviant detection is reflected in the elicitation of the mismatch negativity component (MMN) of the event-related potentials. In the studies presented in this thesis, the MMN is used to investigate the auditory abilities for detecting similarities and regularities in sound streams. To investigate the limits of these processes, professional musicians have been tested in some of the studies. The results show that auditory grouping is already more advanced in musicians than in nonmusicians and that the auditory system of musicians can, unlike that of nonmusicians, detect a numerical regularity of always four tones in a series. These results suggest that sensory auditory processing in musicians is not only a fine tuning of universal abilities, but is also qualitatively more advanced than in nonmusicians. In addition, the relationship between the auditory change-detection function and perception is examined. It is shown that, contrary to the generally accepted view, MMN elicitation does not necessarily correlate with perception. The outcome of the auditory change-detection function can be implicit and the implicit knowledge of the sound structure can, after training, be utilized for behaviorally correct intuitive sound detection. These results illustrate the automatic character of the sensory change detection function.
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Last updated 21.09.2006