Sensory, cognitive, and sensorimotor learning effects in recognition memory for music

Brian Mathias, Barbara Tillmann, Caroline Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research suggests that perception and action are strongly interrelated and that motor experience may aid memory recognition. We investigated the role of motor experience in auditory memory recognition processes by musicians using behavioral, ERP, and neural source current density measures. Skilled pianists learned one set of novel melodies by producing them and another set by perception only. Pianists then completed an auditory memory recognition test during which the previously learned melodies were presented with or without an out-of-key pitch alteration while the EEG was recorded. Pianists indicated whether each melody was altered from or identical to one of the original melodies. Altered pitches elicited a larger N2 ERP component than original pitches, and pitches within previously produced melodies elicited a larger N2 than pitches in previously perceived melodies. Cortical motor planning regions were more strongly activated within the time frame of the N2 following altered pitches in previously produced melodies compared with previously perceived melodies, and larger N2 amplitudes were associated with greater detection accuracy following production learning than perception learning. Early sensory (N1) and later cognitive (P3a) components elicited by pitch alterations correlated with predictions of sensory echoic and schematic tonality models, respectively, but only for the perception learning condition, suggesting that production experience alters the extent to which performers rely on sensory and tonal recognition cues. These findings provide evidence for distinct time courses of sensory, schematic, and motoric influences within the same recognition task and suggest that learned auditory-motor associations influence responses to out-of-key pitches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1126
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Auditory Perception/physiology
  • Brain/physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning/physiology
  • Male
  • Music
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological/physiology
  • Professional Competence
  • Recognition, Psychology/physiology
  • Young Adult


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