Toronto Metropolitan University
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Audiovisual Interval Size Estimation Is Associated with Early Musical Training

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-20, 17:18 authored by Mary Kathryn Abel, Charles Li, Frank RussoFrank Russo, Gottfried Schlaug, Psyche LouiPsyche Loui

Although pitch is a fundamental attribute of auditory perception, substantial individual differences exist in our ability to perceive differences in pitch. Little is known about how these individual differences in the auditory modality might affect crossmodal processes such as audiovisual perception. In this study, we asked whether individual differences in pitch perception might affect audiovisual perception, as it relates to age of onset and number of years of musical training. Fifty-seven subjects made subjective ratings of interval size when given point-light displays of audio, visual, and audiovisual stimuli of sung intervals. Audiovisual stimuli were divided into congruent and incongruent (audiovisual-mismatched) stimuli. Participants’ ratings correlated strongly with interval size in audio-only, visual-only, and audiovisual-congruent conditions. In the audiovisual-incongruent condition, ratings correlated more with audio than with visual stimuli, particularly for subjects who had better pitch perception abilities and higher nonverbal IQ scores. To further investigate the effects of age of onset and length of musical training, subjects were divided into musically trained and untrained groups. Results showed that among subjects with musical training, the degree to which participants’ ratings correlated with auditory interval size during incongruent audiovisual perception was correlated with both nonverbal IQ and age of onset of musical training. After partialing out nonverbal IQ, pitch discrimination thresholds were no longer associated with incongruent audio scores, whereas age of onset of musical training remained associated with incongruent audio scores. These findings invite future research on the developmental effects of musical training, particularly those relating to the process of audiovisual perception.




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