Exploring a Process-Based Account of the Disruption to Music Cognition by Task-Irrelevant Sound

Linklater, Rona (2020) Exploring a Process-Based Account of the Disruption to Music Cognition by Task-Irrelevant Sound. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis aimed to explore the extent to which background melody and lyrics—alone or combined within song—impact differentially on concurrent cognitive processes. Current theoretical accounts question specificity for music and language by arguing that lexical, phonological, and music processing share a common cerebral network: yet other lines of evidence indicate that separate working memory processes for music and visual-verbal information exist. However, most prior research addressing interference produced by music on task performance has focused on short-term memory recall/recognition of visually presented tones/words. Few studies address vocal production of melody/lyrics and consequently it is still unclear how pathways for vocal input/output are generated and how the vocal-motor planning mechanism required for vocal production is affected by the competing motor-plan from the presence of extraneous sound. These studies are the first to demonstrate effects of to-be-ignored distracters on long-term memory retrieval and production of songs through humming and speaking performance. Results suggest an independence of language and melody processing and are consistent with an interference-by-process framework. However, further short-term memory tasks provide some evidence against the interference-by-process view. The results extend the perceptual-gestural view of short-term memory, according to which the disruption observed by task-irrelevant sound reflects a clash between the action of the sequencing processes embodied within perceptual input-processing and gestural output-planning systems that are general and co-opted to meet task demands.

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