Macquarie University
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Statistical learning and auditory processing in adults and children with music training: a behavioural and ERP study

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posted on 2022-03-28, 01:32 authored by Pragati Rao Mandikal Vasuki
Background: Statistical learning (SL) ability helps individuals to extract probabilistic regularities from input without conscious awareness. There is debate in the literature about whether musical expertise is linked with performance on SL tasks. This thesis investigated the association between musical training and a variety of auditory and cognitive tasks including SL. Methods: Data from 40 adults (17 musicians) and 50 children (25 musically trained) were collected. Over the course of 4 experiments, auditory and cognitive measurements, as well as behavioural and online electrophysiological assessments of both auditory and visual SL were obtained in this population. SL was evaluated using the embedded triplet paradigm. Auditory processing measures such as frequency discrimination, dichotic listening tasks and cognitive measures such as the digit span task, sustained attention were also evaluated. In children, a measure of musical abilities was also obtained. Results: Experiments showed significantly better auditory SL in individuals with musictraining. However, individuals with music training did not outperform the control group in visual SL task. Similar results were observed even in children with musical training who have had at least 1.5 years of music training after controlling for socio-economic status, parents' education background across the groups. Musically trained adults and children outperformed their untrained counterparts as they showed distinct responses (larger responses for initial stimulus of the triplets) in the online auditory SL task. Importantly, experiments showed that performance on SL tasks was independent of auditory and cognitive processing measures. Additionally, individual differences in musical abilities were related to the capacity for SL in children. The use of electrophysiological indices such as N1 and N400 as online measures of SL in the two modalities is discussed. Conclusions: The findings add to the growing literature on the nature of association of music training and other skills such as SL, auditory and cognitive processing skills.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Musicians' edge : a comparison of auditory processing, cognitive abilities and statistical learning -- Chapter 3. Musicians' online performance during auditory and visual statistical learning tasks -- Chapter 4. Investigation of statistical learning and auditory processing in children with music training -- Chapter 5. Individual differences in the ability to perceive speech in noise are related to the capacity for statistical learning -- Chapter 6. Chapter summaries -- Chapter 7. General discussion -- Appendices.


Includes bibliographical references Empirical thesis. At foot of title page: Department of Linguistics (Audiology section), The HEARing CRC & ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Mridula Sharma

Additional Supervisor 1

Joanne Arciuli

Additional Supervisor 2

Katherine Demuth


Copyright Pragati Rao Mandikal Vasuki 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




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