ASA 129th Meeting - Washington, DC - 1995 May 30 .. Jun 06

1aSC9. The role of experience in the development of category structures.

Barbara E. Acker

Richard E. Pastore

Dept. of Psych., SUNY Binghamton, Binghamton, NY 13902

Recent speech research and music work have found empirical evidence for prototypes or exemplars. Whereas the function of a speech prototype is debatable, experiments using musically trained subjects found better discrimination around major chord prototypes than near less representative members of the category. While the specific function of prototypes is of interest, the development of prototypes is also important in elucidating perceptual processes. Developmental processes in speech and music have been studied by comparing infant and adult data. Utilizing musically naive adult subjects and musical stimuli, the current work investigates perceptual differences attributable to training and experience, but avoids problems associated with infant subjects. The ability of nonmusically trained subjects to discriminate in-tune (prototype [P] set) and mistuned (nonprototype [NP] set) major chords was evaluated in an AX task. Unlike musicians who showed significantly better performance with the P set, the naive subjects showed no differences between the P and NP sets of stimuli. These results demonstrate the need for experience for the development or activation of prototypes. Whereas the music results may not provide a direct parallel to speech, they do provide a basis for comparison. [Work supported by AFOSR.]