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Poster D109

Hierarchical or independent: Perception of durations, sequences, and beats across modalities

Poster Session D - Monday, April 15, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Zhaleh Mohammad Alipour1 (, Blake E. Butler1, Jessica A. Grahn1; 1Western University

In musical rhythms, humans spontaneously perceive the beat: a salient pulse that marks equally spaced points in time. Although humans perceive, produce, and synchronize with musical beats, individuals vary in beat perception ability. This study investigates possible reasons for poor beat perception ability, in the context of a temporal processing hierarchy—beat perception may rely on intact processing of other temporal features or may be independent. The first level of the hierarchy is single duration timing, which we propose is essential to more complex timing tasks including, but not limited to, the perception of beat. The second level is non-beat-based temporal sequence processing, which is presumed to rely on single duration timing. Finally, beat-based sequence processing is presumed to rely on accurate single duration and sequence processing (as beat extraction relies on the perception of predictable intervals within sequences). To determine whether performance conforms to this proposed perceptual hierarchy, we tested 141 participants on three-alternative forced choice discrimination tasks for single duration timing, non-beat-based sequence timing, and beat-based sequence timing. Additionally, we examined performance across auditory, visual, and tactile modalities. We applied k-means clustering to partition participants based on their patterns of performance across the three tasks within each modality. Stronger evidence of a 3-level perceptual hierarchy was found for auditory than visual or tactile stimuli. This suggests that beat perception in the visual and tactile domain may rely on different mechanisms than in the auditory domain.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Multisensory


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April 13–16  |  2024