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Cognition. 2006 Mar;99(2):113-29. Epub 2005 May 31.

Spatial representation of pitch height: the SMARC effect.

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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, WC1N 3AR, London, UK.


Through the preferential pairing of response positions to pitch, here we show that the internal representation of pitch height is spatial in nature and affects performance, especially in musically trained participants, when response alternatives are either vertically or horizontally aligned. The finding that our cognitive system maps pitch height onto an internal representation of space, which in turn affects motor performance even when this perceptual attribute is irrelevant to the task, extends previous studies on auditory perception and suggests an interesting analogy between music perception and mathematical cognition. Both the basic elements of mathematical cognition (i.e. numbers) and the basic elements of musical cognition (i.e. pitches), appear to be mapped onto a mental spatial representation in a way that affects motor performance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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