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Neurocognitive studies of music reading

Stewart, Lauren; (2003) Neurocognitive studies of music reading. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Music represents a real-world activity that is amenable to behavioural and cognitive fractionation and investigations into its neural basis. This thesis concerns one component of the musical system - music reading. This complex transcription task requires integration across perceptual, cognitive and motor domains and an understanding of its neurocognitive basis is likely to advance understanding both within and outside the musical domain. This thesis investigates the representation of musical notation in pianists and the acquisition of these representations in adult learners. To establish whether music is processed automatically in musically literate individuals, a novel musical Stroop paradigm was developed, based on the classic Stroop task (Stroop, 1935). Participants were required to ignore the musical notation and make keypresses according to a superimposed number. Just as in the language Stroop, novice and expert pianists showed response time costs associated with the congruence of the note/number pairing. In order to investigate the nature of the notational representation, a non-musical spatial Stroop task was designed. The hypothesis that pianists possess a set of vertical to horizontal stimulus-response mappings was tested. Expert pianists and, to a lesser extent novice pianists, were shown to possess spatial stimulus-response mappings that were in evidence outside of a musical context. To investigate the brain changes associated with the acquisition of musical literacy, a group of adult learners were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), as they performed music reading tasks before and after training. After training, reading music for melody activated right superior parietal cortex, consistent with the idea that reading music involves a spatial sensori-motor translation from stave to keyboard. An implicit music reading condition activated left supramarginal gyrus, suggesting that musical notation, once learned, is automatically interpreted in terms of its associated musical response.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Neurocognitive studies of music reading
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099820
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