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The "ticktock" of our internal clock: Direct brain evidence of subjective accents in isochronous sequences

Author(s): R. Brochard, D. Abecasis, D. Potter, R. Ragot, C. Drake

The phenomenon commonly known as subjective accenting refers to the fact that identical sound events within purely isochronous sequences are perceived as unequal. Although subjective accenting has been extensively explored using behavioral methods, no physiological evidence has ever been provided for it. In the present study, we tested the notion that these perceived irregularities are related to the dynamic deployment of attention. We disrupted listeners' expectancies in different positions of auditory equitone sequences and measured their responses through brain event-related potentials (ERPs). Significant differences in a late parietal (P3-like) ERP component were found between the responses elicited on odd-numbered versus even-numbered positions, suggesting that a default binary metric structure was perceived. Our findings indicate that this phenomenon has a rather cognitive, attention-dependent origin, partly affected by musical expertise.

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ISBN: 0956-7976
Publication Year: 2003
Periodical: Psychological Science
Periodical Number: 4
Volume: 14
Pages: 362-366
Author Address: