Testing beat perception without sensory cues to the beat: the Beat-Drop Alignment Test (BDAT)

Cinelyte, Urte; Cannon, Jonathan; Patel, Aniruddh D. and Müllensiefen, Daniel. 2022. Testing beat perception without sensory cues to the beat: the Beat-Drop Alignment Test (BDAT). Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 84(8), pp. 2702-2714. ISSN 1943-3921 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Beat perception can serve as a window into internal time-keeping mechanisms, auditory–motor interactions, and aspects of cognition. One aspect of beat perception is the covert continuation of an internal pulse. Of the several popular tests of beat perception, none provide a satisfying test of this faculty of covert continuation. The current study proposes a new beat-perception test focused on covert pulse continuation: The Beat-Drop Alignment Test (BDAT). In this test, participants must identify the beat in musical excerpts and then judge whether a single probe falls on or off the beat. The probe occurs during a short break in the rhythmic components of the music when no rhythmic events are present, forcing participants to judge beat alignment relative to an internal pulse maintained in the absence of local acoustic timing cues. Here, we present two large (N > 100) tests of the BDAT. In the first, we explore the effect of test item parameters (e.g., probe displacement) on performance. In the second, we correlate scores on an adaptive version of the BDAT with the computerized adaptive Beat Alignment Test (CA-BAT) scores and indices of musical experience. Musical experience indices outperform CA-BAT score as a predictor of BDAT score, suggesting that the BDAT measures a distinct aspect of beat perception that is more experience-dependent and may draw on cognitive resources such as working memory and musical imagery differently than the BAT. The BDAT may prove useful in future behavioral and neural research on beat perception, and all stimuli and code are freely available for download.

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Supplementary Information The online version contains sample audio files and supplementary material available at https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-022-02592-2.

Open practices statement The data and materials for all experiments are available at: https://osf.io/jpc29/, https://github.com/klausfrieler/BDT/, http://gold-msi.org. None of the experiments was preregistered.


Music cognition, Beat perception, Sensorimotor abilities

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29 September 2022Accepted
19 October 2022Published Online
November 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

20 Oct 2022 11:43

Last Modified:

24 Nov 2022 10:59

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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