Pitch and Time Processing in Speech and Tones: The Effects of Musical Training and Attention Purpose Musical training is often linked to enhanced auditory discrimination, but the relative roles of pitch and time in music and speech are unclear. Moreover, it is unclear whether pitch and time processing are correlated across individuals and how they may be affected by attention. This study aimed to examine ... Research Article
Research Article  |   March 15, 2018
Pitch and Time Processing in Speech and Tones: The Effects of Musical Training and Attention
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Anastasia G. Sares
    International Laboratory for Brain Music and Sound (BRAMS), McGill University, Québec, Canada
  • Nicholas E. V. Foster
    International Laboratory for Brain Music and Sound (BRAMS), University of Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Kachina Allen
    Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, NJ
  • Krista L. Hyde
    International Laboratory for Brain Music and Sound (BRAMS), University of Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Kachina Allen is now the Princeton Writing Program, Princeton University, NJ.
    Kachina Allen is now the Princeton Writing Program, Princeton University, NJ.×
  • Correspondence to Anastasia G. Sares: anastasia.sares@mail.mcgill.ca
  • Editor-in-Chief: Julie Liss
    Editor-in-Chief: Julie Liss×
  • Editor: Bharath Chandrasekaran
    Editor: Bharath Chandrasekaran×
Article Information
Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   March 15, 2018
Pitch and Time Processing in Speech and Tones: The Effects of Musical Training and Attention
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 2018, Vol. 61, 496-509. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-S-17-0207
History: Received May 31, 2017 , Revised October 9, 2017 , Accepted November 6, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 2018, Vol. 61, 496-509. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-S-17-0207
History: Received May 31, 2017; Revised October 9, 2017; Accepted November 6, 2017

Purpose Musical training is often linked to enhanced auditory discrimination, but the relative roles of pitch and time in music and speech are unclear. Moreover, it is unclear whether pitch and time processing are correlated across individuals and how they may be affected by attention. This study aimed to examine pitch and time processing in speech and tone sequences, taking musical training and attention into account.

Method Musicians (16) and nonmusicians (16) were asked to detect pitch or timing changes in speech and tone sequences and make a binary response. In some conditions, the participants were focused on 1 aspect of the stimulus (directed attention), and in others, they had to pay attention to all aspects at once (divided attention).

Results As expected, musicians performed better overall. Performance scores on pitch and time tasks were correlated, as were performance scores for speech and tonal stimuli, but most markedly in musicians. All participants performed better on the directed versus divided attention task, but again, musicians performed better than nonmusicians.

Conclusion In general, this experiment shows that individuals with a better sense of pitch discrimination also have a better sense of timing discrimination in the auditory domain. In addition, although musicians perform better overall, these results do not support the idea that musicians have an added advantage for divided attention tasks. These findings serve to better understand how musical training and attention affect pitch and time processing in the context of speech and tones and may have applications in special populations.

Supplemental Material https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.5895997

Acknowledgments
This work was funded by a CIHR grant to Krista L. Hyde. We thank Bernard Bouchard for assistance with the preparation of the stimuli and our laboratory research assistants for their help in data collection: Rakhee Chowdhury, Catherine d'Aguiar, Caitlin Proctor-Cuggy, Kim Lan St-Pierre, and Iola Patalas.
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