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Temporal grouping effects in musical short-term memory

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Recent theoretical accounts of verbal and visuo-spatial short-term memory (STM) have proposed the existence of domain-general mechanisms for the maintenance of serial order information. These accounts are based on the observation of similar behavioural effects across several modalities, such as temporal grouping effects. Across two experiments, the present study aimed at extending these findings, by exploring a STM modality that has received little interest so far, STM for musical information. Given its inherent rhythmic, temporal and serial organisation, the musical domain is of interest for investigating serial order STM processes such as temporal grouping. In Experiment 1, the data did not allow to determine the presence or the absence of temporal grouping effects. In Experiment 2, we observed that temporal grouping of tone sequences during encoding improves short-term recognition for serially presented probe tones. Furthermore, the serial position curves included micro-primacy and micro-recency effects, which are the hallmark characteristic of temporal grouping. Our results suggest that the encoding of serial order information in musical STM may be supported by temporal positional coding mechanisms similar to those reported in the verbal domain.
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Keywords: Serial order; domain-general; music and language; rhythm; working memory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Psychology and Neuroscience of Cognition Research Unit (PsyNCog), University of Liège, Liège, Belgium

Publication date: July 3, 2018

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