Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Based on research on the “McGurk Effect” (McGurk & McDonald, 1976) in speech perception, some researchers (e.g. Liberman & Mattingly, 1985) have argued that humans uniquely interpret auditory and visual (motor) speech signals as a single intended audiovisual articulatory gesture, and that such multisensory integration is innate and specific to language. Our goal for the present study was to determine if a McGurk-like Effect holds true for music perception as well, as a domain for which innateness and experience can be disentangled more easily than in language. We sought to investigate the effects of visual musical information on auditory music perception and judgment, the impact of music experience on such audiovisual integration, and the possible role of eye gaze patterns as a potential mediator for music experience and the extent of visual influence on auditory judgments. 108 participants (ages 18-40) completed a questionnaire and melody/rhythm perception tasks to determine music experience and abilities, and then completed speech and musical McGurk tasks. Stimuli were recorded from five sounds produced by a speaker or musician (cellist and trombonist) that ranged incrementally along a continuum from one type to another (e.g. non-vibrato to strong vibrato). In the audiovisual condition, these sounds were paired with videos of the speaker/performer producing one type of sound or another (representing either end of the continuum) such that the audio and video matched or mismatched to varying degrees. Participants indicated, on a 100-point scale, the extent to which the auditory presentation represents one end of the continuum or the other. Auditory judgments for each sound were then compared based on their visual pairings to determine the impact of visual cues on auditory judgments. Additionally, several types of music experience were evaluated as potential predictors of the degree of influence visual stimuli had on auditory judgments. Finally, eye gaze patterns were measured in a different sample of 15 participants to assess relationships between music experience and eye gaze patterns, and eye gaze patterns and extent of visual on auditory judgments. Results indicated a reliable “musical McGurk Effect” in the context of cello vibrato sounds, but weaker overall effects for trombone vibrato sounds and cello pluck and bow sounds. Limited evidence was found to suggest that music experience impacts the extent to which individuals are influenced by visual stimuli when making auditory judgments. The support that was obtained, however, indicated the possibility for diminished visual influence on auditory judgments based on variables associated with music “production” experience. Potential relationships between music experience and eye-gaze patterns were identified. Implications for audiovisual integration in the context of speech and music perception are discussed, and future directions advised.
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