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Acta Psychol (Amst). 2004 May;116(1):93-108.

Play it again: did this melody occur more frequently or was it heard more recently? The role of stimulus familiarity in episodic recognition of music.

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Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA.


Episodic recognition of novel and familiar melodies was examined by asking participants to make judgments about the recency and frequency of presentation of melodies over the course of two days of testing. For novel melodies, recency judgments were poor and participants often confused the number of presentations of a melody with its day of presentation; melodies heard frequently were judged as have been heard more recently than they actually were. For familiar melodies, recency judgments were much more accurate and the number of presentations of a melody helped rather than hindered performance. Frequency judgments were generally more accurate than recency judgments and did not demonstrate the same interaction with musical familiarity. Overall, these findings suggest that (1) episodic recognition of novel melodies is based more on a generalized "feeling of familiarity" than on a specific episodic memory, (2) frequency information contributes more strongly to this generalized memory than recency information, and (3) the formation of an episodic memory for a melody depends either on the overall familiarity of the stimulus or the availability of a verbal label.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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