New paper out in the Psychology of Music!

How good is our memory for melodies? And why do we remember some aspects of music better than others? To discover some answers to these questions, check out my new paper entitled 'Change detection and schematic processing in music', now out in the journal Psychology of Music! The paper is available for download here.

Research into vision has highlighted the importance of gist representations in change detection and memory. This article puts forth the hypothesis that schematic processing and gist provide an account for change detection in music as well, where a musical gist is an abstracted memory representation for schematically consistent tones. The present experiments illuminate the content of gist memory representations by testing when listeners can detect single-tone changes in pairs of melodies. In Experiment 1, musicians and non-musicians listened to melodies varying in tonal structure. Less structure resulted in compromised change detection in both groups. Most often, musicians displayed more accurate change detection than non-musicians, but, surprisingly, when schematic processing could not contribute to memory encoding, musicians performed worse than their untrained counterparts. Experiment 2 utilized a full-factorial design to examine tonality, interval of pitch change, metrical position, and rhythm. Tonality had a particularly large effect on performance, with non-scale tones generally aiding change detection. Listeners were unlikely, however, to detect schematically inconsistent tones when only brief melodic context was available. The results uphold the hypothesis that memory for melodies relies on schematic processing, with change detection dependent upon whether the change alters the schematic gist of the melody.