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Perception of musical timbre in congenital amusia: categorization, discrimination and short-term memory

Marin, M.; Gingras, B. and Stewart, Lauren. 2012. Perception of musical timbre in congenital amusia: categorization, discrimination and short-term memory. Neuropsychologia, 50(3), pp. 367-378. ISSN 0028-3932 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Congenital amusia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized primarily by difficulties in the pitch domain. The aim of the present study was to investigate the perception of musical timbre in a group of individuals with congenital amusia by probing discrimination and short-term memory for real-world timbral stimuli as well as examining the ability of these individuals to sort instrumental tones according to their timbral similarity. Thirteen amusic individuals were matched with thirteen non-amusic controls on a range of background variables. The discrimination task included stimuli of two different durations and pairings of instrumental tones that reflected varying distances in a perceptual timbre space. Performance in the discrimination task was at ceiling for both groups. In contrast, amusic individuals scored lower than controls on the short-term timbral memory task. Amusic individuals also performed worse than controls on the sorting task, suggesting differences in the higher-order representation of musical timbre. These findings add to the emerging picture of amusia as a disorder that has consequences for the perception and memory of musical timbre, as well as pitch.

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Congenital amusia; Tone colour; Discrimination; Categorization; Short-term memory

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Date Deposited:

06 Jul 2012 12:51

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 12:56

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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