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Exp Psychol. 2012 Jan 1;59(5):272-8. doi: 10.1027/1618-3169/a000153.

A unique asymmetrical stroop effect in absolute pitch possessors.

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Department of Psychology and the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel.


The Stroop task has been employed to study automaticity or failures of selective attention for many years. The effect is known to be asymmetrical, with words affecting color naming but not vice versa. In the current work two auditory-visual Stroop-like tasks were devised in order to study the automaticity of pitch processing in both absolute pitch (AP) possessors and musically trained controls without AP (nAP). In the tone naming task, participants were asked to name the auditory tone while ignoring a visual note name. In the note naming task, participants were asked to read a note name while ignoring the auditory tone. The nAP group showed a significant congruency effect only in the tone naming task, whereas AP possessors showed the reverse pattern, with a significant congruency effect only in the note reading task. Thus, AP possessors were unable to ignore the auditory tone when asked to read the note, but were unaffected by the verbal note name when asked to label the auditory tone. The results suggest that pitch identification in participants endowed with AP ability is automatic and impossible to suppress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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