AIRS at the CPA Convention - Abstracts, Toronto, June 8-10, 2017

CPA Convention Abstracts, Toronto, June 8-10, 2017

Effect of Song and Focus on Learning Unfamiliar Words by Musicians and Non-Musicians, Jiaqi Guo, Henrietta Lempert, Vanessa Lee, University of Toronto

Sixty non-professional musicians (RCM Grade 6 minimum) and 60 non-musicians (all, PSY100 students) heard English dative sentences (Jill gave Meg a book) and their Korean equivalents under one of three conditions: Singing voice, Rhythmic speech, Monotone speech.  Learning focus was manipulated such that half the participants were instructed to learn the grammatical rules for the Korean sentences (Rule-learning focus); the rest were instructed to learn the Korean equivalents of the English words (Vocabulary-learning focus).  Vocabulary learning (MAX=16) was assessed by word translation tests (English word – Korean response, Korean word – English response) and a word recognition test.  A Training x Conditions multivariate ANOVA on correct responses for each task indicated a non-significant effect of musical training on vocabulary learning in the Rule-learning Focus condition, and superior learning under Singing and Monotone Speech than Rhythmic Speech (perhaps because of  a faster speech rate in the latter than former conditions).  Musician superiority for vocabulary learning emerged only with a Vocabulary-learning focus:  Musicians in the Song and Rhythmic Speech conditions significantly surpassed Monotone condition learners whereas the condition pattern for non-musicians replicated that seen with a Rule-learning  focus. The results suggest that musician superiority for intentional word learning reflects relatively greater attention to the melody of the words.


Does infant directed singing cue infant prosociality? Laura Cirelli, Sandra Trehub, University of Toronto Mississauga

Musical engagement with infants has important social benefits. For example, 14-month-olds display more prosocial behaviour toward a stranger who previously bounced to music in synchrony with their own bouncing than toward a stranger who bounced out-of-synchrony (Cirelli, Einarson & Trainor, 2014). Interpersonal synchrony is thought to encourage prosociality through enhanced attention to synchronous individuals (Woolhouse, Tidhar & Cross, 2016). Because infant directed (ID) singing is more effective than ID speech at capturing infant attention and ameliorating infant distress, it is possible that ID singing, like synchronous movement, promotes infant prosociality. Fourteen-month-old infants (n=36 when data collection is complete) participated in two experimental phases: (1) stranger exposure (2.5 min) followed by (2) helping tasks. During stranger exposure, infants sat on their caregiver’s lap with the experimenter (E) facing the infant. There were three between-subjects conditions for the stranger-exposure phase: (1) E singing to infant, (2) E reciting song lyrics to infant, or (3) caregiver reading a book to infant while E reads silently on her own. Subsequently, infant helpfulness toward E was assessed with tasks used in previous research (Cirelli et al., 2014). In these tasks, E drops objects needed to complete a goal. Infant helpfulness is calculated as the number of objects retrieved by infants and returned to E. Data collection is still underway, but ID singing is expected to generate more prosocial behaviour toward an unfamiliar adult than ID speaking or caregiver book reading. These results will shed light on the social relevance of ID speech and singing.


Infants’ processing of melody and lyrics when presented simultaneously in song, Alexandra Ryken, Christine Tsang, Department of Psychology, Huron University College at Western

Past research has shown that infant listeners have sophisticated auditory processing skills. In the domain of music processing, infant listeners can recognize familiar folk melodies (e.g., Trainor, Wu, & Tsang, 2004), while in the domain of speech processing, infant listeners can use statistical frequency of consonant-vowel syllables to recognize novel words (e.g., Saffran, Aslin, & Newport, 1996). Infants are able to process melodic and speech information when these two streams are presented independently. However, melodic and speech information is often presented to infants simultaneously. There has been little research to date examining infants’ ability to process dual streams of auditory information. In the present study, 8-month-old infants were familiarized to one of two melodies with nonsense lyrics. The lyrics were syllables arranged in a non-random order, such that the transitional probabilities between syllables formed “words”. Infants were tested for auditory preferences to either the novel melody, or to the familiar “words”. Results showed that infants failed to recognize familiar melodies if the melody was presented at the same time as the lyrics. However, infants’ recognition of “words” remained unaffected. These results suggest that 8-month-old infants are highly sensitive to linguistic information to the detriment of other perceptual processing.


Applying the Singing Experience Scale of Gick and Busch (2015), Hailey Arsenault, Edward Hansen, Annabel Cohen, University of Prince Edward Island

People often regard the act of singing as being only for professional performers or persons with good voices; therefore, the extent to which they define themselves on a singer/non-singer continuum may vary considerably. In an attempt to measure this dimension of experience, Gick and Busch (2015) developed a Singing Experience Scale (SE) of 23 items and validated it in large-sample testing of 213 persons, one-third being choir members and the remainder, the general population.  In extending this work, the present study administered the SE to two contrasting groups: (1) persons who had expressed interest in joining a modern pop choir (N = 139), and (2) persons who were recovering from an addiction  (N = 16 currently) [our original interest in SE was in determining whether a match between self-help groups that included singing in their program would lead to better outcomes for members who identified as singers.] The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS, Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) and the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS, Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985) were also included. Data collection is in progress, and analyses with respect to item-level, factor analysis, mood, and well-being measures will be compared to those of Gick and Busch, and Busch (2013) and will be briefly discussed in terms of the value of SE to singing research and to health and societal benefits of singing.


Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have enhanced memory for vocal music, Michael Weiss, Megha Sharda, International Laboratory of Brain, Music, and Sound (BRAMS), Department of Psychology, University of Montreal; Sandra Trehub, University of Toronto; Krista Hyde, International Laboratory of Brain, Music, and Sound (BRAMS), Department of Psychology, University of Montreal; Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition characterized by atypical social and communication skills as well as atypical sensory perception. In the auditory domain, previous work has shown atypical voice processing in individuals with ASD (e.g., Gervais et al., 2004). However, recent research suggests that behavioral and neural responses to vocal music are preserved in ASD (Paul et al., 2015; Sharda et al., 2014). Both adults and typically-developing children remember sung melodies better than instrumental renditions (Weiss, Trehub, & Schellenberg, 2012; Weiss, Trehub, Schellenberg, & Dawber, 2015). The goal of the present study was to examine whether children with ASD exhibit a similar “voice advantage” in memory for melodies. Here we present preliminary data from 21 children with ASD (17 male, age 8–13 years, IQ > 70) who were tested on a melodic memory task previously used in typically-developing children (Weiss et al., 2015). During an exposure phase, the children heard 12 unfamiliar folk melodies (n = 4 each in voice, piano, marimba) and rated how much they liked each melody in each of two rounds of exposure. After a short break, the children completed a memory task in which they rated the same melodies and 12 novel melodies (intermixed and matched on timbre) as old (“yes, I heard it before”) or new (“no, it is new”). Data collection is ongoing, but preliminary results revealed that the ASD children had better memory for vocal melodies than for piano or marimba melodies, which did not differ from each other. These results are consistent with previous work of enhanced auditory-musical processing in ASD.


Vocal performance of student élite athletes: effects of music training on pitch stability of repeated key-notes in a familiar song, Eric Da Silva, Kyle Dutton, Bing-Yi Pan, Annabel Cohen, University of Prince Edward Island

Previous work in the laboratory compared 20 musicians and 20 non-musicians (typically university students) on pitch stability in singing a familiar song, Frère Jacques/Brother John as part of the AIRS Test Battery of Singing Skills. The song contains 10 key notes (do).  The present study tested 40 student élite athletes on the ATBSS. We report on performance of the 10 key notes. The group was divided into 2 sub-groups of 20, differing in level of music training. Greater music training was associated with significantly greater pitch stability across the 10 key notes; a significant quadratic trend was associated with a serial position curve (primacy/recency effect) for the less trained group (a difficult middle section of the piece [morning bells are ringing] may have contributed to the increased error). A questionnaire revealed an inverse relation between athlete’s time dedicated to sport and music. The benefits of music training on pitch accuracy was found in the athlete group as it had been in the original study of musicians and non-musicians. Some procedural differences prevent perfect comparisons across the two studies, but we conclude that athletes provide a useful comparison to musicians, each with a disciplined dedication to a domain--musicians focusing primarily on fine motor skill and  audition and athletes focusing on gross motor skill and vision.


Antecedents to the Calling of Singer-songwriters in Canada: An Online Survey of the influences of geographic location, family members, and self-efficacy, Chris Robison, Annabel Cohen, University of Prince Edward Island

In an on-line survey aiming to determine the influences on the calling to a profession of singer-songwriter, 53 singer-songwriters provided information about their first exposure to music, early musical memories, and various influences. A previous study, which interviewed 18 singer-songwriters from Prince Edward Island, had revealed influences of family members and, to a lesser extent, teachers and institutions. To expand on the previous study, the present study sampled across geographic locations using an on-line survey with dichotomous, multiple-choice, and open-ended formats. Participants were classified by geographical birthplace into large (n=18), small (n=18) and PEI (n=17) jurisdictions. The results confirmed the previously observed influence of family, especially parental influence, however, the greatest self-reported influence was singer/songwriter “idols” followed by self-reliance. Participants were largely self-taught guitarists and singers who believed their voices were unique and would continuously improve when rated against the vocal performance skill level of their musical idol/hero.  The period of adolescence appeared pivotal for both crystallization of the concept of personal calling as a singer-songwriter and impact of influences from peers and role models.


Investigating Self-Discernment and Psychological Well-Being in University-Level Singers, Darryl Edwards, Charlene Santoni, Chritina Haldane, University of Toronto.

University-level singers are often plagued by negative, self-doubting thoughts, which can lead to muscle tension dysphonia, depression and other health-related issues. A study was therefore devised to address in-studio anxiety using grounded theory to explore the University-level voice lesson experience using coding open-ended interview, questionnaire and video data. Core concepts emerged revealing student anxiety, negative self-talk and negative (as opposed to active) tension in the voice studio. Furthermore, students appeared either unaware or unwilling to acknowledge a propensity towards negative thoughts and their body’s response during the voice lesson.  In addition, poor vocal performance outcomes (noted aurally) were found to be associated with singer’s negative mental state. On the basis of the initial findings, we surmise that training a voice is commensurate with training a mind and that psychogenic muscle tension dysphonia must be addressed in-studio. Implications for the voice studio, both teachers and students will be briefly discussed in the context of psychological-evidence-based advocacy for change.


Positive effect of group singing on cooperative behaviours in children, Arla Good, Frank Russo, Ryerson University.

Research in social experimental psychology has consistently shown that moving in synchrony with others can foster social cohesion and cooperation in a group of individuals. Joint music making, such as group singing, provides a rhythmic framework that allows untrained individuals to easily synchronize their movements, and may thus be an effective way to enhance social relations. In the current study, we assessed whether group singing would encourage cooperative behaviours in a group of children with diverse ethnic and socio-economic status backgrounds. Fifty children recruited from an urban summer camp in Toronto, Canada participated in this study. Children were assigned to one of three activity conditions: group singing, group art, or competitive games. Both the singing and art conditions involved cooperation; however, the critical difference was that the singing condition involved movement synchrony while the art condition did not. Following participation in these activities, children were randomly assigned into dyads and asked to play a children’s version of the prisoner’s dilemma game assessing cooperation. Results showed that children who had engaged in group singing were more likely to choose cooperative strategies during the game than the children who had engaged in group art or competitive games. These findings have important implications for social relations in diverse classroom.



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