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Judy Plantinga and Laurel J Trainor (2008)

Infants' memory for isolated tones and the effects of interference

Music Perception, 26(2):121-127.

In most adults, pitch memory for single tones is of short duration, and the presence of interference reduces performance in pitch matching tasks.We show that 6-month-old infants can remember the pitch of a tone for at least 2.5 s but that, like adults, their memory is disrupted by tones interpolated between repetitions of the tone-to-be-remembered. For both infants and adults, we found a significant negative correlation between the number of interference tones and proportion correct in detecting a change in pitch. Performance reached chance levels with 5 interference tones for infants, and 15 interference tones for adults. This indicates that although there may be a developmental increase with age in the length of time a memory can be held, for both 6-month-old infants and adults, memory for the absolute pitch of isolated tones fades rapidly.

development, infant, relative pitch, memory, absolute pitch

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