JOURNAL ARTICLE

Harmonic priming in an amusic patient: the power of implicit tasks

Barbara Tillmann, Isabelle Peretz, Emmanuel Bigand, Nathalie Gosselin
Cognitive Neuropsychology 2007, 24 (6): 603-22
18416511
Our study investigated with an implicit method (i.e., priming paradigm) whether I.R. - a brain-damaged patient exhibiting severe amusia - processes implicitly musical structures. The task consisted in identifying one of two phonemes (Experiment 1) or timbres (Experiment 2) on the last chord of eight-chord sequences (i.e., target). The targets were harmonically related or less related to the prior chords. I.R. displayed harmonic priming effects: Phoneme and timbre identification was faster for related than for less related targets (Experiments 1 and 2). However, I.R.'s explicit judgements of completion for the same sequences did not differ between related and less related contexts (Experiment 3). Her impaired performance in explicit judgements was not due to general difficulties with task demands since she performed like controls for completion judgements on spoken sentences (Experiment 4). The findings indicate that implicit knowledge of musical structures might remain intact and accessible, even when explicit judgements and overt recognition have been lost.

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