Honing, H., Ladinig, O., Winkler, I., & Haden, G. (2008). Probing emergent meter perception in adults and newborns using event-related brain potentials: a pilot study. Proceedings of the Neurosciences & Music III Conference. Montreal: McGill University.


We presented non-musicians weakly and strongly syncopated rhythmic patterns (Deviants Dn) in a non-syncopated context (Standards Sn) to probe sensitivity for meter, using behavioral (RT's and d' measures of discrimination sensitivity) and electrophysiological (ERP/MMN) measurements. Behavioral results in adults yielded better discrimination (higher d') and shorter RT's for deviants in a metrically strong (D1), as opposed to a metrically weak position (D2). Differences in MMN latencies and amplitudes (elicited by the two deviant-types) support that subjects are sensitive to meter. This suggests meter perception to be active in non-musicians, both in a Passive Condition (i.e. watching a self-selected-muted movie with subtitles) and when performing a concurrent auditory task (detecting intensity changes in noise stream; Unattended Condition). A version of the MMN paradigm (using only metrically strong deviants) showed that neonates (2-3 days old) are also sensitive to rhythmic violations.

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