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Music perception (was Semantic sound perception)

Hadi Harb asked a question I would like to refine for my own work
(currently a book on the cognitive psychology of meaning).

Is it possible to determine -- i.e., are there reliable physiological
indices -- that a person is processing MUSIC?

I put this question to Emanuel Donchin who moved from UIUC to chair
psychology here at the University of South Florida. Manny's response
was "No, but I can tell you [through ERPs] when a person switches
from processing music to speech or speech to music."

Perhaps that's the definitive answer: the two processes can be
_distinguished_ but music processing cannot be reliably _identified_
without a comparison mode.

A variant: If one is recording whatever kind of physiological index
of music processing (of, say, the beginning of the Liszt piano
transcription of Beethoven's Fifth), and the soundstream changes to
sounds made by a piano but lacking the previous tonal-metric
coherence, can an experienced researcher say with confidence that the
person has ceased  listening to _music_ but continues to process

Denis M. Donovan, M.D., M.Ed., F.A.P.S.
The Children's Center for Developmental Psychiatry
6675 - 13th Avenue North, Suite 2-A
St. Petersburg, Florida 33710-5483

Phone:  727-345-2400
FAX:    727-345-8808
Email:  dmdonvan@ix.netcom.com