ASA 125th Meeting Ottawa 1993 May

5aMU7. Early musical acculturation.

Michael P. Lynch

Dept. of Audiol. & Speech Sci., 1353 Heavilon Hall, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN 47907-1353

Humans can universally, under typical circumstances, appreciate music. This appreciation is presumably dependent on the ability to process musical structure, but it is not clear how this processing develops. The present study was designed to contribute toward clarification of this issue. Western infants were tested in detection of mistunings (increase of 3.2% in frequency of a randomly selected melody note) in melodies based on either native or nonnative musical scales. Infants repeatedly heard the well-tuned versions of the melodies and learned to turn their heads toward the sound source when they heard a mistuning. If infants, like adults, have developed schematic knowledge of musical tuning, then their performance in this task would be expected to be better in testing conditions involving native scales than in conditions involving nonnative scales. Although infants at 6, 9, and 12 months of age all performed the task with reliably better than chance success, statistically better native than nonnative mistuning detection was evident only at 12 months of age. This finding suggests that perceptual reorganization for musical tuning occurs in an age range that is similar to that observed for speech perception in infants. [Work supported by NICHD Grant No. HD28527.]