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Current Research

Current and Past Research Lab Questions:

  • What are the roots of musicality? How does early music appreciation (like engagement and love of music) influence musical and non-musical perceptual abilities during childhood, even without any music lessons?

  • Does musicality influence emotional responses to music, both positive and negative? Are more musical people also more likely to experience Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) and misophonia (anger or disgust in reaction to certain sounds)?

  • How does perception and musical beat and meter develop during childhood? Can infants and children tell when a drum pattern or metronome matches or mismatches music?

Current and Past Research Questions

  • How does experience listening to culturally familiar music influence the way we perceive rhythm? How accurately can children and adults reproduce rhythmic patterns and can their mistakes or distortions tell us something about the way their culture-specific listening experiences shape their perception?​

  • Can speech sometimes be perceived as music? The speech-to-song illusion happens when a clip of speech begins to sound like song after being repeated several times. Once the clip sounds like song, will it still sound like song days, weeks, or months later? Does our musicality, music training, and language ability predict how strongly we experience this illusion and how long it persists over time?

  • Some evidence suggests that listeners tend to perceive foreign speech as faster than native speech, and we want to know if this also happens with music. Does “foreign” music sound faster than familiar music?

  • Do children perceive the speech-to-song illusion? Do their developing musical skills correlate with their perception of the illusion?

  • Can infants perceive simple rule-like patterns in sequences of syllables and musical notes?

  • When do infants and children begin showing better perception of familiar than unfamiliar speech, music, and faces, and are these developmental changes correlated across domains?

Methodology

Questionnaires

For adults and some children, we ask participants to answer some questions on-line or in the lab about their music and language experiences, their likes and dislikes, their music and educational background, their personality, and other life history or demographics questions.

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Behavioral Tasks

Adults and children are presented with sounds or videos and make judgements about which one was better, whether one was different from another, provide a label or description, and sometimes we will ask participants to repeat something they heard either by playing a drum or instrument or vocalizing.

Looking Behavior

For infants, we play videos on a big screen accompanied by music, speech, or other sounds and we measure how long they gaze at the screen or where they look. This is a very simple way of measuring how much babies like sounds, or whether they can discriminate sounds.

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Physiology

For some studies we ask adults or children to wear an electrode cap that allows us to measure electrical activity on the scalp while we play videos or sounds. This allows us to better understand how the developing brain responds to different sounds.

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