Saturday, October 22, 2011

Music and Cognition 1

I've been thinking a lot about the information that I have been reading about in my cognitive psychology class and how it relates to music. This might be a little discursive but it is honestly all I can think about.

One cognitive theory states that people with higher working memories actually mind wonder more than those with lower working memory abilities. This is because they have a cognitive capacity available that is beyond what is required for a certain task. My theory is that these are the people who can listen to music and do homework at the same time, and claim that it helps them concentrate. Music helps them concentrate because they cognitive capacity that otherwise would not have been fulfilled by the task and is fulfilled by the music, and hence they do not mind wonder as much -- they are more concentrated.
Another general theory is that of automaticity. When you do something over and over again it becomes second nature and when you think about it, it actually makes you do worse! (Totally what happened to me at my first trumpet recital). Anyone that plays an instrument can tell you that once you have something down, don't think about it, just do it.
In a study done by Scheider & Shiffrin their participants went through 2,100 detection trials (looking for the same visual targets in a display -- kind of like a word search). By the 600th trial the accuracy rates were over 80%. After the researchers then switched the targets and had them search for the targets that were the distraction targets in the previous trials. It took the participants 2,400 trials to match the accuracy level that before only took them 600 trials to achieve. This relates to music because when you learn and practice a note wrong or practice with a bad technique it takes even longer to relearn it the correct way.

Question: What does attention, automaticity, and relearning effects tell us about the philosophy of music?