C Dur. Chunking im Gedächtnis von Musikexperten

Lörch, Lucas

Document Type: Conference presentation
Year of publication: 2019
Conference title: 35. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Musikpsychologie "Kognitive Musikpsychologie"
Location of the conference venue: Eichstätt, Germany
Date of the conference: 6.9.-8.9.2019
Publication language: German
Institution: School of Social Sciences > Bildungspsychologie (Münzer 2012-)
Subject: 150 Psychology
Individual keywords (German): Arbeitsgedächtnis , Kurzzeitgedächtnis , Expertise
Keywords (English): working memory , short-term memory , chunking
Abstract: Theoretical background: Chunking is a memory strategy performed by experts that allows them to increase their memory capacity for information from their task domain by strategically grouping single pieces of information into known units. In task domains, such as music, certain combinations of pieces of information form frequently reoccurring units. For example, the three notes C – E – G form a unit labeled ‘C major chord’. Expert musicians’ long-term memory contains this combination of notes and the label for it. If these three notes have to be memorized, experts can mentally represent them using the associated label. As a consequence, encoding and maintenance processes become more effective and more information can be stored and successfully recalled. In short, chunking is a process that uses knowledge for information compression in memory. I tested these assumptions in three experiments. Method: Study 1 and study 2 used a serial recall task. Single note symbols were shown on a computer screen. They were presented sequentially for one second with a 500 ms inter-stimulus interval. Each note was presented at the same location than the previous one. Afterwards, the pitch of all notes had to be recalled in correct serial order. In study 1 (n = 88) 6 or 9 notes had to be recalled. It was varied within-participants if subsequent notes formed major chords or nonsensical sequences. In study 2 (n = 97) 4 or 8 notes had to be recalled. it was varied if subsequent notes formed cadences or nonsensical sequences. I used the GOLD-MSI questionnaire in both experiments. It provided an indicator of musical expertise which allowed to study the influence of musical expertise on recall performance. Results: The data showed that experts had a higher recall accuracy than non-experts and there was a better recall accuracy when notes formed chords or cadences. In study 1, I found an interaction: There was a larger difference between the chords and the no-chords condition if participants had a high musical expertise. Method: Study 3 used a complex span task. Participants were music students (n = 75). They were asked to memorize the pitch of a single, printed note and then perform a short, simple melody on a piano at first sight. This procedure was repeated and then, a memory test followed in which all memorized pitches had to be recalled in correct serial order. Again, it was manipulated if subsequent notes formed major chords or nonsensical sequences. Results: I found a strong effect of the factor chords. Participant had a much larger recall accuracy if notes formed chords than when they did not. Currently, data collection for a fourth study is running, using the same complex span task with non-experts. This will make it possible to perform an expertise comparison in this paradigm as well. All in all, the data support the notion of chunking as a memory strategy of experts that leads to an increased memory capacity for domain-specific information.

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