Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Accounting for Musical Perception through Equivalence Relations and Abstraction: An Experimental Approach

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Accounting for Musical Perception through Equivalence Relations and Abstraction: An Experimental Approach

Article excerpt

According to Sidman and Tailby (1982; see also Sidman, 1994) conditional discrimination training (e.g., AB/BC) may give raise to other relations that were not directly taught. Equivalence class formation is attested if the participant is able to respond to stimuli programmed to belong to the same class when those are presented in novel combinations and sequences, in accordance with the properties of reflexivity (AA), symmetry (BA and CB) and transitivity (AC).

The stimulus equivalence paradigm has been used in Behavior Analysis to account for symbolic behaviors and has been widely applied to teach complex repertories related to language use such as reading, spelling, etc. (e.g., de Rose, de Souza, & Hanna, 1996; de Souza, de Rose, Faleiros, Bortoloti, Hanna, & McIlvane, 2009; Hanna et alii, 2011; Hübner, Gomes, & McIlvane, 2009; Sidman, 1971; Sidman & Cresson, 1973). It has also been used to teach other symbolic systems such as musical notation (Acín, García, Zayas, & Domínguez, 2006; Batitucci, 2007; Hanna, Batitucci, & Natalino-Rangel, 2016; Hayes, Thompson, & Hayes, 1989; Tena & Velazquez, 1997). Tena and Velázquez (1997), for example, taught seven kids to relate the dictated and written names of seven musical notes to the corresponding letter symbols and pictorial representation on a staff. The results from the symmetry, transitivity and reflexivity tests showed equivalence class formation for all participants.

Taking into account the behavior of the musician, it is important not only to "know" the names of the notes and its notation, but also to respond discriminatively to the sounds related to their visual representation. Some studies have advanced a few steps in the sense of using auditory-visual matching-to-sample tasks before testing for equivalence. Hayes, Thompson, & Hayes (1989), in a part of their training, taught participants to discriminate the temporal properties of music such as a half and a quarter note. Two other studies taught the participants to respond discriminatively to isolated musical notes (Acín et alii, 2006) and to sequences of notes (Perez & de Rose, 2010).

In all these studies, single notes were played alone or successively. The visual counterpart of the auditory-visual training was also the staff or the letter symbols of the notes. In music, however, notes can be played simultaneously as a chord and other notations such as the chord grid may be used, especially for guitar players.

A chord is a group of musical notes played together, at the same time. Chords differ from each other by the intervals that compose them. An interval is the distance between two notes. The distance of the notes from a root note defines what kind of chord is played. If the second and the third note are 2 and 3.5 tones from the root note, respectively, a major chord is formed. A C major chord (C on the musical notation) is composed by the notes C (root), E (2 tones from the root) and G (3.5 tones from the root). Using different notes but keeping the same intervallic relations, the E major chord is formed by the notes E (root), G# (2 tones from the root) and B (3.5 tones from the root). Thus, the notes themselves do not define a chord. The relevant property is a property of the sound that corresponds to the intervallic relation between the notes that are played together. Taking the distance pattern into account, if the second and the third note are 1.5 and 3.5 tones from the root, respectively, a minor chord is formed. Yet another chord type is called a 7th chord, formed when a fourth note, 5 tones from the root note, is added, a major chord.

Multiple exemplar training (MET) has proved to be an effective procedure to establish stimulus control by abstract and subtle stimulus features, in humans (e.g., DeQuinzio, Townsend, Sturmey, & Poulson, 2007; Garcia, Baer, & Firestone, 1971; see also Barnes-Holmes, Barnes-Holmes, Roche, & Smeets, 2001a, b; Berens & Hayes, 2007; Luciano, Gómez Becerra, & Rodríguez Valverde, 2007) and nonhumans (e. …

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