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Preference for Sensory Consonance in 2- and 4-Month-Old Infants

Laurel J. Trainor, Christine D. Tsang and Vivian H. W. Cheung
Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Vol. 20, No. 2 (Winter 2002), pp. 187-194
DOI: 10.1525/mp.2002.20.2.187
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/mp.2002.20.2.187
Page Count: 8
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Preference for Sensory Consonance in 2- and 4-Month-Old Infants
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Abstract

The preferences of 2- and 4-month-old infants for consonant versus dissonant two-tone intervals was tested by using a looking-time preference procedure. Infants of both ages preferred to listen to consonant over dissonant intervals and found it difficult to recover interest after a sequence of dissonant trials. Thus, sensitivity to consonance and dissonance is found before knowledge of scale structure and may be based on the innate structure of the inner ear and the firing characteristics of the auditory nerve. It is likely that consonance perception provides a bootstrap into the task of learning the pitch structure of the musical system to which the infant is exposed.

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