Musical training and auditory global-local precedence


People demonstrate a consistent tendency to favor holistic or global processing over processing of local details in many perceptual domains; this tendency is called global-local precedence. Formal musical training is associated with qualitative changes in auditory processing, but the number of years required remains unclear, particularly for any perceptual differences between untrained and minimally trained participants. In this study, participants with zero to over ten years' music training identified the direction of pitch changes in three-sound sequences. Only participants with three or more years' training demonstrated a significant global-local precedence. Individuals without musical training consistently identified the local direction of pitch-change sequence elements better than global pitch changes across each sequence. Although musical training was associated both with greater task accuracy and with global-local precedence, improved accuracy did not explain the musically trained participants' preferential processing of global auditory characteristics.

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