Modeling the Relational Shift in Melodic Processing of Young Children


As a ubiquitous trend in the cognitive development of children, the ‘relational shift’ accounts for a change in preference for absolute percepts towards a preference for relational percepts, and is observed across a wide variety of domains. Extensive evidence indicates that this prepotency for relational processing is also observed in how children process melodies. When recalling melodies, younger children typically recall more absolute pitch properties than older children, while the exact opposite occurs in older children. Using DORA (Discovery Of Relations by Analogy; Doumas et al., 2008), a domain-general symbolic-connectionist model of relation learning, we simulated the relational shift in melodic perception of children age 3-6 years based on an experiment by Sergeant and Roche (1973). DORA’s performance matched the children’s well, suggesting common developmental and perceptual mechanisms between the relational shift in melodic processing and the shift seen across other domains.

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