The subjective sense of familiarity with music

McNeely-White, Katherine L., author
Cleary, Anne M., advisor
Seger, Carol A., committee member
Henry, Kimberly, committee member
LaGasse, Blythe, committee member
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The process of familiarity—the mere sense or feeling of prior experience with something—remains poorly understood. Most theories assume that familiarity involves separable features held within memory traces, and some empirical evidence supports this notion. Familiarity appears to be at work in the metacognitive phenomenon known as déjà vu—the feeling of having experienced something before despite knowing that it is new—and its accompanying illusion of prediction. The present study examined the nature of musical features held within memory traces and their possible role in déjà entendu – the auditory version of déjà vu. Participants in Experiment 1 received studied songs in altered contexts at test. As in déjà vu research, the familiarity occurring in these altered auditory contexts related to reports of déjà entendu. In Experiment 2, repeated exposure to isolated musical features (rhythm or pitch) at study led to increased familiarity and déjà entendu reports with the full songs later. In Experiment 3, illusory feelings of prediction were shown to be associated with reports of déjà entendu. During déjà entendu, participants felt more able to predict the song's contour (Experiment 3a) and the sound location of the next note in the sequence (Experiment 3b). The full pattern of results suggest that separable features are a central component of the familiarity process with music, and that they play a role in déjà entendu. As shown in déjà vu research, both déjà entendu and feelings of familiarity are associated with illusory feelings of prediction.
2020 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.
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déjà vu
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