The effects of ethnicity, musicianship, and tone language experience on pitch perception
Samuel, Arthur G
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Zheng, Y., & Samuel, A. G. (2018). The effects of ethnicity, musicianship, and tone language experience on pitch perception. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71(12), 2627–2642. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747021818757435
Article information Article has an altmetric score of 3 Free Access Article Information Volume: 71 issue: 12, page(s): 2627-2642 Article first published online: February 16, 2018; Issue published: December 1, 2018 Received: February 21, 2017; Revisions received: September 15, 2017; Accepted: November 25, 2017 Yi Zheng1, Arthur G Samuel1, 2, 3 1Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA 2Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, Donostia, Spain 3Ikerbasque—Basque Foundation for Science, Bilbao, Spain Corresponding Author: Yi Zheng, Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract Language and music are intertwined: music training can facilitate language abilities, and language experiences can also help with some music tasks. Possible language–music transfer effects are explored in two experiments in this study. In Experiment 1, we tested native Mandarin, Korean, and English speakers on a pitch discrimination task with two types of sounds: speech sounds and fundamental frequency (F0) patterns derived from speech sounds. To control for factors that might influence participants’ performance, we included cognitive ability tasks testing memory and intelligence. In addition, two music skill tasks were used to examine general transfer effects from language to music. Prior studies showing that tone language speakers have an advantage on pitch tasks have been taken as support for three alternative hypotheses: specific transfer effects, general transfer effects, and an ethnicity effect. In Experiment 1, musicians outperformed non-musicians on both speech and F0 sounds, suggesting a music-to-language transfer effect. Korean and Mandarin speakers performed similarly, and they both outperformed English speakers, providing some evidence for an ethnicity effect. Alternatively, this could be due to population selection bias. In Experiment 2, we recruited Chinese Americans approximating the native English speakers’ language background to further test the ethnicity effect. Chinese Americans, regardless of their tone language experiences, performed similarly to their non–Asian American counterparts in all tasks. Therefore, although this study provides additional evidence of transfer effects across music and language, it casts doubt on the contribution of ethnicity to differences observed in pitch perception and general music abilities.