Temporal Semiotic Units as minimal meaningful units in music? An electrophysiological approach.

  • Frey Aline
  • Marie Céline
  • Prod'homme Lucie
  • Timsit-Berthier Martine
  • Schön Daniele
  • Besson Mireille

  • Temporal Semantic Units TSU
  • N400
  • Expertise
  • Musical semantics
  • Event-related potentials ERP
  • EEG

ART

The aim of this study was to determine whether conceptual priming occurs between successively presented short musical pieces called Temporal Semantic Units (TSUs). Behavioral and ERP data were recorded while participants, experts and nonexperts in TSUs, were listening to pairs of TSUs and were asked to determine whether the target TSU evoked the same or a different concept than the prime TSU. Target TSUs were either congruous (i.e., they developed the same musical concept as the prime TSUs) or incongruous (i.e., they started as congruous TSUs but shifted midstream into a different concept). Results showed that, whereas P3a components were elicited in both groups by the shifting into incongruous TSUs, thereby reflecting an automatic shift of attention when the changes occurred, P3b components were elicited in experts and N400-like components were found in nonexperts. The functional significance of these results is discussed in regard of previous results with environmental sounds.