A Simpler Explanation for Vestibular Influence on Beat Perception: No Specialized Unit Needed
Riggle, Mark pp. 19-22 Description | Full Text PDF
Mode and Tempo in Western Classical Music of the Common- Practice Era: My Grandmother Was Largely Right – but No One Knows Why
Konečni, Vladimir J. pp. 23-26 Description | Full Text PDF
Commentary on "Why Does Music Therapy Help in Autism?" by N. Khetrapal
Bhatara, Anjali K. pp. 27-31 Description | Full Text PDF
Extracting the Beat: An Experience-dependent Complex Integration of Multisensory Information Involving Multiple Levels of the Nervous System
Trainor, Laurel J.; Unrau, Andrea pp. 32-36 Description | Full Text PDF
General Intelligence and Modality-specific Differences in Performance: A Response to Schellenberg (2008)
Tierney, Adam T.; Bergeson, Tonya R.; Pisoni, David B. pp. 37-39 Description | Full Text PDF
(Empirical Musicology Review, 2009-01) Tierney, Adam T.; Bergeson, Tonya R.; Pisoni, David B.
Tierney et al. (2008) reported that musicians performed better on an
auditory sequence memory task when compared to non-musicians, but the two
groups did not differ in performance on a sequential visuo-spatial memory task.
Schellenberg (2008) claims that these results can be attributed entirely to
differences in IQ. This explanation, however, cannot account for the fact that the
musicians’ advantage was modality-specific.
(Empirical Musicology Review, 2009-01) Trainor, Laurel J.; Unrau, Andrea
In a series of studies we have shown that movement (or vestibular
stimulation) that is synchronized to every second or every third beat of a metrically
ambiguous rhythm pattern biases people to perceive the meter as a march or as a
waltz, respectively. Riggle (this volume) claims that we postulate an "innate",
"specialized brain unit" for beat perception that is "directly" influenced by vestibular
input. In fact, to the contrary, we argue that experience likely plays a large role in the
development of rhythmic auditory-movement interactions, and that rhythmic
processing in the brain is widely distributed and includes subcortical and cortical
areas involved in sound processing and movement. Further, we argue that vestibular
and auditory information are integrated at various subcortical and cortical levels
along with input from other sensory modalities, and it is not clear which levels are
most important for rhythm processing or, indeed, what a "direct" influence of
vestibular input would mean. Finally, we argue that vestibular input to sound
location mechanisms may be involved, but likely cannot explain the influence of
vestibular input on the perception of auditory rhythm. This remains an empirical
question for future research.
(Empirical Musicology Review, 2009-01) Bhatara, Anjali K.
Khetrapal reviews the literature on music and autism and stresses the
need for a greater focus on the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying both
autism and music perception. I build upon this review and discuss the strong
connections between speech prosody and emotion in music. These connections
imply that emotion recognition training in one domain can influence emotion
recognition in the other. Understanding of emotional speech is frequently impaired
in individuals with ASD, so music therapy should be explored further as a possible
(Empirical Musicology Review, 2009-01) Konečni, Vladimir J.
The work of Post and Huron (2009) is an example of how the
received wisdom in musicology can be fruitfully challenged by simple empirical
procedures – in this case demonstrating a counterintuitive, yet strong, relationship
between the minor mode and fast tempi in the Romantic era. The fact that the
authors’ explanation in terms of the emotional similarities of the minor mode with
the Sturm und Drang attributes (other than “sadness”) is not wholly convincing in
music-historical terms does not diminish the importance of the finding. However,
there is still no resolution of the central psychological conundrum of why the minor
mode is generally associated with “sadness.” And it is unclear why the authors drew
on speech prosody rather than human emotion-driven and emotion-expressing
movement for their tempo observations. There are other aspects of the data that
require further exploration. One is the differential distribution of the associations of
various tempo markings with mode across the periods of the common-practice era.
Another is the 3 : 1 preponderance of allegro over adagio in the authors’ search of
50,000 tracks in the ClassicsOnline.com database and the possibility that this ratio is
a partial consequence of the psychological implications of the sonata form that were
intuitively understood and used by composers.
(Empirical Musicology Review, 2009-01) Riggle, Mark
Some researchers have hypothesized the existence of a specialized brain
unit for beat perception in music which is directly influenced by vestibular stimulation
arising from motion. They also suggest that the unit is involved in the entrainment of
movement to music. However, the data used to support this hypothesis may be explained
by a simpler phenomenon: the audiogravic and audiogyral effect. This effect is not
related to beat perception at all but deals with perceived sound changes under
accelerations. If the perception of a sound changes as a consequence of acceleration of
the vestibular system, and those accelerations are timed to coincide with particular beats
in a stream of unaccented beats, then those beats will actually sound different. The
detection of a given meter in that unaccented stream will therefore arise from this change
in sound processing, with no need for a specialized brain mechanism for beat perception.
There is no direct evidence supporting the existence of an innate brain unit.
Music therapy is shown to be an effective intervention for emotional
recognition deficits in autism. However, researchers to date have yet to propose a
model that accounts for the neurobiological and cognitive components that are
responsible for such improvements. The current paper outlines a model whereby
the encoding of tonal pitch is proposed as the underlying mechanism. Accurate
tonal pitch perception is important for recognizing emotions like happiness and
sadness in the auditory domain. Once acquired, the ability to perceive tonal pitch
functions as a domain-specific module that proves beneficial for music cognition.
There is biological preparedness for the development of such a module and it is
hypothesized to be preserved in autism. The current paper reinforces the need to
build intervention programs based on this preserved module in autism, and
proposes that this module may form the basis for a range of benefits related to
music therapy. Possible brain areas associated with this module are suggested.
(Empirical Musicology Review, 2009-01) Post, Olaf; Huron, David
Two studies are reported that examine the relationship between
musical mode and tempo in Western classical music. In the first study, modes were
determined for 331 works bearing the tempo markings largo, adagio, allegro, or
presto. Slower tempo markings are significantly more likely to be associated with
the minor mode in the case of music from the Baroque and Classical periods,
whereas the reverse trend is observed in music from the Romantic period. In the
second study, an analysis of 21 audio recordings of theme-and-variation keyboard
movements (from all three style periods) shows that variations written in the minor
mode are performed more slowly than neighboring variations in the major mode.
These tempo-related observations are largely consistent with research in speech
prosody, which has shown that sad speakers speak relatively slowly.