The Effects of Musical Expertise on Sensory Processing
Olshansky, Michael Peter
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The goal of this thesis was to assess sensorimotor musical experience and its impact on the way that individuals perceive and interact with real-world musical stimuli. Experiment #1 investigated multisensory integration in 14 musicians and 10 non-musicians using a two alternative forced-choice (2AFC) discrimination task, and was designed to examine whether musical expertise augmented multisensory enhancement. Musical experience did not alter the outcomes of multisensory integration, but there may be asymmetries between musicians and non-musicians in their use of auditory cues. Experiment #2 was a neuroimaging case study investigating the influence of musical familiarity on the kinesthetic motor imagery of dance accompanied by music in expert dancers. Familiarity resulted in increased hemodynamic responses in the supplementary motor area (SMA) and decreased responses in Heschls gyrus (HG). These findings provide new evidence regarding the influence of musical expertise on sensory processing using real-world complex stimuli. This thesis suggests that expert practice shapes the way experts perceive and interact with their environments, and emphasizes the need for, and challenges of using naturalistic stimuli.