Relative to the English speakers, the Mandarin speakers more easily discriminated, but less easily identified, the music melodies. This difference in performance across the two language groups may be taken to support the notion that music-pitch and speech-pitch are processed via common cognitive mechanisms. In addition, the research team posited that the pitch identification task -- where listeners had to match musical pitch patterns to visual representations of those patterns -- was subject to the influence of existing linguistic pitch categories for the Mandarin listeners. In contrast, the English listeners could perform the musical pitch pattern identification task without interference from any pre-existing pitch categories. However, in the pitch discrimination task -- where listeners do not compare the input to stored categories but instead focus on small acoustic differences between pairs -- the Mandarin listeners' discrimination seemed to be enhanced relative to that of the English listeners, possibly due to their experience with linguistic tone discrimination.
The results of this study could be used by teachers and students, who might use their experience with linguistic pitch to tailor their approaches to teaching and learning about
|Contact: Jason Bardi|
American Institute of Physics