What is it about?

We presented infants with an ambiguous rhythm with 6 beats that could either be heard in duple meter (groups of 2 beats; e.g., a march) or triple meter (groups of 3 beats; e.g., a waltz). By presenting periods of accented trials that indicated either duple or triple meter, we primed infants' brains to respond more strongly to pitch changes on metrically strong vs weak beats in the ambiguous rhythm, according to how they were primed, although effects were stronger for the babies in the duple group. Further, infants with a musically experienced parent showed stronger brain responses to the pitch changes overall.

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Why is it important?

This research is the first to show that infants can maintain a metrical structure on an ambiguous rhythm via top-down processes, a skill important for language learning and social development.

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This page is a summary of: Evidence for Top‐down Meter Perception in Infancy as Shown by Primed Neural Responses to an Ambiguous Rhythm, European Journal of Neuroscience, April 2022, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/ejn.15671.
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