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Weir, G.; Williamson, V.; Mullensiefen, D. (2015)
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects:
This study investigates whether there is an association between accurate performance on a musical imagery test and the extent to which people typically experience involuntary musical imagery (INMI, also known as “earworms”). This hypothesis was tested alongside a second hypothesis regarding the established association between musical practice (musical training and activity) and musical imagery ability. Sixty-seven participants were recruited from a general adult population to represent groups with high/low everyday INMI experiences and high/low levels of musical practice. The experimental musical imagery task required participants to listen to excerpts of familiar songs that contained a muted section of about 10 s and to judge whether the reentry of the music after the muted section was shifted in pitch (up/down by 1 semitone) or in timing (early/late by 2 beats). Results confirmed the second hypothesis: musical practice was positively associated with the accuracy of pitch judgments on the imagery task but not timing judgments. By contrast, none of the INMI measures were associated with imagery accuracy. Results are interpreted with reference to the literature on expertise effects and musical imagery.

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