Earworms in the Amusic Mind? Questionnaire Investigation in Congenital Amusia - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Music & Science Year : 2023

Earworms in the Amusic Mind? Questionnaire Investigation in Congenital Amusia


Involuntary musical imagery, colloquially known as “earworms”, is a phenomenon hypothesized to reflect involuntary rehearsal of long-term memory representations. Here we investigated musical earworms with a questionnaire adapted from Halpern and Bartlett (2011, Music Perception, 28(4), 425–432), both in typical individuals and in participants with congenital amusia. Congenital amusics have impaired short- and long-term musical memory, yet with evidence for preserved implicit processing of music. Almost all participants in both groups reported experiencing musical earworms, however less frequently so in amusics than in controls. In both groups, musical earworms were reported being mostly familiar music with lyrics, and consisted of music liked by the participants. Some features distinguished earworms in amusics and controls, with more limited familiarity effects in amusics. Moreover, amusics were deploying less voluntary strategies to stop the earworms, in keeping with less stable music memories in this group. In addition, we investigated verbal earworms in the same participants. Verbal earworms occurred less frequently than musical earworms, and were more frequent in amusics than in controls. However, the two types of earworms showed similar features and their frequencies of occurrence were correlated, suggesting they rely in part on domain-general processes. Implications for the understanding of involuntary auditory imagery and congenital amusia are discussed.
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hal-04080712 , version 1 (25-04-2023)


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Barbara Tillmann, Lesly Fornoni, Pralus Agathe, Caliani Hoarau, Philippe Albouy, et al.. Earworms in the Amusic Mind? Questionnaire Investigation in Congenital Amusia. Music & Science, 2023, 6, pp.205920432311663. ⟨10.1177/20592043231166332⟩. ⟨hal-04080712⟩
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