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zakia hammal, frédéric gosselin, isabelle peretz, sylvie hebert; Spatial Frequencies Mediating Music Reading. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):971. doi: 10.1167/10.7.971.
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The purpose of this study was to examine Spatial Frequencies (SFs) mediating music reading compared to text reading. The SFs Bubbles technique (Willenbockel et al., 2009), which consists in randomly sampling multiple SFs simultaneously on each trial, was used. A set of 70 piano excerpts selected from the unfamiliar piano repertoire was used for music reading and 50 sentences from MNRead Acuity Charts were used for text reading. The visual size of each letter and note was about 0.34°. Five pianists and five naïve observers took part in the experiments. The percentage of correctly produced pitches and ‘ascii code’ was used as a performance measure for music and text reading respectively. To find out which SFs drove the participants' correct responses for music and text reading, a multiple linear regression was performed. A statistical test (Chauvin et al., 2005) was then used to determine thresholds that selected the diagnostic SFs for accurate performance. The music reading results showed a significant SFs band (from 1 to 1.7 cycles per note (cpn)) peaking at 1.19 cpn, compared to two SF bands for text reading: the first SFs band (from 1.08 to 1.3 cycles per letter (cpl)) peaking at 1.2 cpl and the second SFs band (from 1.6 to 2.6 cpl) peaking at 1.8 cpl. In a control experiment, five new pianists were instructed to play the set of 70 excerpts, first sampled with the obtained diagnostic filter for music reading, and then without sampling. Pianist performances with the diagnostic filter (94%) were comparable (96%) to those without filtering (P > 0.05). The present findings show that music reading is mediated only partly by SF bands mediating text reading, which may explain why in some cases, difficulties in music reading are not necessarily accompanied by difficulties in text reading.
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