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pitch discrimination performance in musicians

Dear Roy and List,
There are some published data on the question of pitch discrimination performance in musicians, compared to non-musicians. In particular:
- Spiegel and Watson (1984) Performance on frequency-discrimination tasks by musicians and non-musicians. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 76, 1960-1965.
- Kishon-Rabin, Amir, Vexler, and Zaltz (2001) Pitch discrimination: are professional musicians better than non-musicians? J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol 12, 125-143.
- Micheyl, Delhommeau, Perrot, and Oxenham (2006) Influence of musical and psychoacoustical training on pitch discrimination. Hear. Res. 219, 36-47.
The results of these studies concur to demonstrate statistically lower frequency- and F0-discrimination limens in musicians compared to non-musicians.
It takes several hours of practice of the pitch-discrimination task, for the latter group to obtain thresholds that are as low (on average) as those of the musicians -- with substantial inter-individual differences in both initial performance and improvement (see Micheyl et al., 2006 for details).

Christophe Micheyl
Research Associate
Department of Psychology
University of Minnesota
N640b Elliott Hall
75 East River Road
Minneapolis MN 55455-0344
Tel: 612 626 3291
Fax: 612 626 3359

Date: Tue, 6 Feb 2007 13:52:16 +0000 From: Roy Patterson <rdp1@xxxxxxxxx> Subject: Re: Five string bass

It is unlikely that it is the ears that are trained. It is more likely
to be the brain, or the use of words to describe perceptions. But to
begin with we need to understand just what it is that trained musicians
can do with low notes that the rest of us can't.

Do you really think they can reliably make finer pitch discriminations?
I understand that they think they can, but is it true of the population
of trained musicians? And if it is true, is it a big difference?
If so, someone should try and demonstrate just how much better they are.

Regards Roy P

fn:Christophe Micheyl
org:University of Minnesota;Department of Psychology
adr;dom:75 East River Road;;N640b Elliott Hall;Minneapolis;MN;55455-0344 
title:Research Associate
tel;work:612 626 3291
tel;fax:612 626 3359
note:*** Note new address ***