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You are here: McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind > Publications > Speed, accuracy, and serial order in sequence production

Peter Q Pfordresher, Caroline Palmer, and Melissa K Jungers (2007)

Speed, accuracy, and serial order in sequence production

Cognitive Science, 31(1):63-98.

The production of complex sequences like music or speech requires the rapid and temporally precise production of events (e.g., notes and chords), often at fast rates. Memory retrieval in these circumstances may rely on the simultaneous activation of both the current event and the surrounding context (Lashley, 1951). We describe an extension to a model of incremental retrieval in sequence production (Palmer & Pfordresher, 2003) that incorporates this logic to predict overall error rates and speed-accuracy trade-offs, as well as types of serial ordering errors. The model-assumes that retrieval of the current event is influenced by activations of surrounding events. Activations of surrounding events increase over time, such that both the accessibility of distant events and overall accuracy increases at slower production rates. The model's predictions were tested in an experiment in which pianists performed unfamiliar music at 8 different tempi. Model fits to speed-accuracy data and to serial ordering errors support model predictions. Parameter fits to individual data further suggest that working memory contributes to the retrieval of serial order and overall accuracy is influenced in addition by motor dexterity and domain-specific skill.

sequence production, mathematical model, motor, memory, speed-accuracy