You might remember the famous salmon study by Bennett et al. (2009) (pdf), the classic demonstration of why corrections for multiple comparisons are vital in fMRI research. Yes, the one where the researchers found significant activation in parts of a salmon’s brain. Dead salmon’s brain to be exact.
Wow, that was a fast month…
So, my academic writing month started a bit late, and it also ended a week early, as I got the chance to attend a one-week MEG training session by Elekta. This was an intensive full-time course with lots of lectures and hands-on sessions, which basically meant that I had no time nor energy to write anything after the approximately 9 hours of training per day.
This probably sounds like I’m building an excuse to not have met my AcWriMo goals?
Or, it has actually been 11 days, but I started a bit late, so this was the first full week for me.
In the previous post, I said I’d be working on three papers and the thesis. I’ve got the Current Study, the Recent Study, and the Old Study. Of the Current Study, I wanted to achieve a full draft that I could send forward internally to others in the group. Here I’m not going to be the first author, but have promised to draft some bits. In the Recent study, we already have a draft but it requires heavy editing and possibly some analysis, and the aim was to be able to submit this by the end of the month. Finally, the Old Study is something I’ve sat on for a while, it’s a part of the thesis and just needs to be spun off as an article.
So, here’s what happened on the first week.
Right. Here we go. November is a month of campaigns. Some people neglect taking proper care of their facial hair to raise awareness of prostate cancer, some others have decided it should be the month of writing books. The National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) has been around since 1999, and last year 256 618 people took part, with 36 843 people reaching the 50 000 word goal. Loads of schools are taking part, as well. The point is to take advantage of the usually foul weather and churn out text by writing every day, and logging your progress on the website, and making noise about the whole thing in the social media while you are at it.
Putting together a setup for an experiment is one of my favourite parts of the research process. I suppose it is because it is practical work, providing a nice balance to the usual sitting in front of the computer for hours and hours -routine that most of the rest of the process consists of. Also, it is the point where usually a lot of abstract planning gets its physical form – a moment of birth, in a way. Emotions are involved, usually frustration as things do not work, but in the end also satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when they finally do.
A very nerdy confession: I like to read the methods and especially the apparatus sections in research papers. Even if the study itself is strong mainly in meh-ness, there might be clever bits in the way the study was conducted. And, a lot of very clever stuff was done before everything was done with computers.
Thanks for your interest! The experiment is now fully subscribed, we got all the participants we can test at the moment, so unfortunately it is not possible to take part at this time. Thank you!
We are carrying out a rhythm performance experiment at the Dept. of Music of the University of Jyväskylä in the autumn 2011.
The study consists of an internet questionnaire and easy rhythm tapping experiments that are carried out in pairs in the lab. These tapping experiments will take place inthe studio of the Musica building in November and December. This experiment is part of a larger study that explores interpersonal synchronisation, timing and rhythm clapping.
We need non-musicians!
This time we would especially need participants who do not have formal musical training or do not actively play instruments or sing at the moment. (It’s ok to have taken music lessons or played an instrument as a child, we just need a group that is different from our usual crowd of music professionals and music students who spend all their days with music.) Also, participants can be of any age, gender or come from any educational background, as long as they have normal hearing and they can perform the task. You can try performing the task using the sound example below.
Example of the task performed in the experiment
In the tapping experiment, the participants are asked to perform simple rhythm tapping tasks that do not require skills in percussion or any other musical training for that matter. In the experiment, the participants tap a MIDI drum with their fingers, in a steady even pulse, occasionally in time with a computer click track, occasionally with another participant.
You can try performing the task using the sound sample below. Click to play the sound file, you will hear a computer piano sound that has a steady beat. Tap on the table with your finger and try to stay in time with the computer piano. After a while, the computer will stop, but you should keep on tapping. Try to keep the original tempo (rate of tapping) as steady as possible. Stop when you hear the jingle at the end of the sound file.
Take part in the experiment!
If you are interested in taking part in the experiment, first fill in a background questionnaire here. It should take about 5-10 minutes. Please remember to fill in the field for your email address, we will need that so that we can contact you and pick a time when you could come and do the tapping part of the experiment. The tapping experiments will be carried out in the studio at the basement of the Musica building (see map). The tapping experiment will take about 45 minutes. Participants will receive a Finnkino movie ticket as a token of our appreciation of their help. Also, we’ll have a raffle where one lucky participant will win an iPod music player!
Further information from Tommi by email or by phone (040) 8054304.
Music perception on monitieteisen musiikintutkimuksen keskeinen ja arvostettu lehti. MP on toiminut kognitiivisen musiikintutkimuksen julkaisukanavana 80-luvun alkupuolelta lähtien, ja monet sen artikkeleista ovat tieteenalan keskeistä lukemistoa. Lehden vaikuttavuuskerroin on 1.742, mikä on pienen tutkimusalan lehdelle varsin hyvä. Laskennallista kerrointa tärkeämpää on kuitenkin, että lehti on todella korkeatasoinen, sen toimituskunta tekee huolellista työtä, vertaisarviointi on perusteellinen, ja ko. lehdessä julkaisemista pidetään alalla meriittinä.
Tästä syystä onkin hienoa, että lehden artikkelit on otettu systemaattiseen tarkasteluun. Suuren työn ovat tehneet Anna Tirovolas ja ohjaajansa Dan Levitin. He ovat käyneet läpi kaikki Music Perception -lehdessä julkaistut empiiriset artikkelit (384 kpl) vuosilta 1983-2010 (lehden perustamisesta tutkimuksen tekohetkeen) ja luokitelleet ne. Tutkimusdata ja luokitteluavain löytyvät esimerkillisesti verkosta.
Datasta löytyy paljon mielenkiintoisia asioita esimerkiksi käytettyjen koetehtävien, ärsykkeiden, musiikillisen materiaalin ja koehenkilöiden osalta. Valtaosa tutkimuksista on käyttänyt klassista musiikkia (51%), aikuisia (95%) ja/tai musiikillisesti koulutettuja (75%) koehenkilöitä ja havaitsemistehtäviä (74%). Tämä vahvistaa alan sisällä olevat käsitykset “perinteisestä” musiikkipsykologisesta tutkimuksesta. Kiinnostavasti yksittäisten äänten käyttö väheni, puheen ja visuaalisten ärsykkeiden käyttö nousi ajan myötä. Klassisen musiikin käytöllä oli myös laskeva (mutta ei tilastollisesti merkitsevä) trendi. Sen sijaan aineistosta ei havaittu, että musiikin havaitsemisen vs. tuottamisen käyttö tutkimuksen mittaristossa olisi muuttunut ajan myötä. Tätä tosin selittää ehkä lehden nimi ja fokus, musiikin esittämisen tutkimusta ja esimerkiksi musiikkia ja liikettä koskevaa tutkimusta on ehkä raportoitu enemmän muualla.Tutkimusaiheista melodian ja sävelkorkeuden havaitsemisen tutkimus on hiljalleen antanut tilaa rytmin ja ajoituksen tutkimukselle, joka on emootiotutkimuksen ohella tehnyt nousua viime vuosina. Myös MP:n kaikkein lainatuin artikkeli on rytmiin liittyvä, Povel & Essensin klassikko “Perception of Temporal Patterns“, jonka rytmikuvioluokittelua on käytetty apuna useissa alan tutkimuksissa.
Tutkimusryhmässämme on ehkä eniten riemastusta aiheuttanut kuitenkin osio, jossa tarkastellaan, mistä maasta tutkimukset ovat peräisin. Valtaosa Music Perception -lehden artikkeleista on peräisin lehdenkin kotimaasta USA:sta, mikä ei sinänsä yllätä. Tirovolasin ja Levitinin laboratorion kotipaikka Kanada sijoittuu tässä tilastossa kakkoseksi ennen Iso-Britanniaa, Hollantia ja Ranskaa. Suomi sijoittuu kärkikymmenikköön yhdeksänneksi ennen Ruotsia. USA on ylivoimainen, sen tuotanto on miltei yhtä suuri kuin kaikkien muiden yhteensä. Mutta, tarkasteltaessa tutkimusten määriä suhteutettuna maan väkilukuun, nousee yksi ylitse muiden:
Jee! Hyvä Suomi! Ja hyvä meidän huippuyksikkö!
Tirovolas ja Levitin toteavat, että Suomen huikea ykkössija on pitkälti Mari Tervaniemen ja Petri Toiviaisen ja heidän tutkimusryhmiensä ansiota. Ladunavaajana toimi Mari Tervaniemi, jonka artikkeli “Absolute pitch and event-related brain potentials” (Tervaniemi, Alho, Paavilainen, Sams & Näätänen) julkaistiin 1993. Seuraavana listassa onkin jo Toiviaisen ja Tervaniemen yhteistyön tulos “Timbre similarity: Convergence of neural, behavioral, and computational approaches“, jossa mukana kirjoittajina myös Louhivuori, Saher, Huotilainen ja Näätänen. Petrin vuonna 1995 Music Perceptioniin kirjoittama artikkeli ei ole tilastoissa mukana, koska se perustuu hermoverkkosimulaatioon eikä koehenkilöiden käyttöön, eikä se siten täytä Tirovolasin ja Levitinin kriteereitä “empiirisestä” tutkimuksesta.
Mielenkiintoinen artikkeli, vaikka se perustuukin vain yhden lehden sisältöön eikä siten anna kattavaa kuvaa koko tieteenalasta. Ääriviivoja se kuitenkin piirtää ja tietysti on hieno nähdä myös, että suomalainen tutkimus on tällä alalla määrällisesti maailman huipulla. Toki se on sitä myös laadullisesti, eihän niitä huippuyksikköstatuksia turhasta myönnetä.
Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 29 (1), 23-36 DOI: 10.1525/mp.2011.29.1.23
When writing a thesis, a chore that always takes more time than predicted is building the bibliography. Even with good software to manage your citations and references (EndNote, RefWorks, JabRef etc.), peppering your text with references and engaging in discussion with your sources takes time. (I often wonder how it was even possible to do research before ScienceDirect, BibTex and Google Scholar).
A researcher is a part of a network and a link in a chain. We build on other researchers’ work and provide a service of collating information from numerous sources, making interpretations and value-based judgments on the way. Some papers wind up being generally accepted as “canonical” in the field, these are the ones read by every journal club and quoted in every paper and thesis on the topic. Others are forgotten or live on as curiosities, mentioned for entertainment value or as “sign of the times past”.
The traditional view of cognition is that brains are responsible for information processing, and to study that brain and how it works should be done by metaphorically evacuating it from the skull, bolting it on the test bench of the psychology lab and put it through its paces.
As an analogy, you can’t get a comprehensive idea of the performance of the car based on just having its engine being measured in a test bench. You will learn nothing about how the car will handle under different conditions, how comfortable or handy it will be etc.
I don’t want to push that analogy any further, as I think it’s already as far as it uncomfortably goes, but cognitive psychology is well-known for leaving out the (usually) social context in which the individual mind works, and also the body in which it resides, which it moves and which takes it to places. While fields like social and cognition and cultural psychology have tried to bring in the social side of our being, embodied cognition is the keyword for studying how the mind and body work together to instantiate behaviours and cognitive processes.
Music is a great domain to study these issues, and one could argue that in order to study music, one needs to take both the social and embodied contexts into account. In Jyväskylä, we study music-related movement with this in mind; to understand what takes place when someone plays music, we need to see how they use their bodies AND how they use their minds.
That’s a bit of an intro to this interesting paper I recently found. In the paper “Moving Through Time”, the authors from the University of Aberdeen discuss their study, where they tracked the forward-and-back -movement or posture of people who were either recalling their past or predicting what their future would look like. They noticed that when imagining their future (the ability to travel subjectively through time, is called chronesthesia, in case you need to impress someone, or for instance come up with a fancy-sounding excuse for staring blankly ahead) people would be leaning forward, and when recalling the past, they’d be leaning backward.
According to the authors, this demonstrates that this subjective time travel has an observable behavioural correlate and that this is an instance of how the perception-action cycle works. This is a very clear and simple study, and the results look very clean. I wonder if we could somehow extend this to interpersonal or musical contexts… Please leave a comment if you have ideas!Miles, L. K., Nind, L. K. & Macrae, C. N. (2010). Moving Through Time. Psychological Science. Published online as doi:10.1177/0956797609359333
Pic: Engine test bench http://www.sensycontrol.pl
In the early 90′s, American researchers caused a stir when they reported a study where they’d showed that listening to Mozart boosts your performance in a subsequent IQ test (eg. Rauscher, Shaw & Ky 1995). The term “Mozart effect” was coined, then trademarked and rapidly monetised by a musician called Dan Campbell, and peddling “brain cd’s” for students, children and even preborn babies has been a growth industry ever since. Clearly this study ticked all the boxes: intelligence, music by a mystery genious, providing an easy fix and a shortcut for a competitive edge for your children. Too bad the study also ticked many of the boxes of inadequate experimental study, including small N, badly chosen controls and some very liberal interpretation of the results (although the authors themselves didn’t claim that Mozart increased intelligence, they only went so far as to say it improved performance in a spatio-temporal task).
Follow-up studies that were done by people with better knowledge of how music works (a number of studies by Glenn Schellenberg, for example) first of all pointed out that comparing music with silence (the control group in the original study spent an equivalent time sitting in silence, when the experimental group listened to music by Mozart) isn’t actually fair. Also, the proposed explanation of the mechanism behind this effect is somewhat dubious. Many of the replications of this study have also failed to reproduce the finding.
There is an effect, however, but it is much less mysterious. According to the explanation that makes most sense (as the mechanism is well-known, robust and well-documented) listening to music adjusts your state of arousal, and valence. In other words, music can affect your feelings and mood. The piano sonata K448 by Mozart (the one used in the original study) is a happy, uptempo piece that is likely to set you up for an IQ test better than sitting in dull silence. Later, this effect has been produced with user-selected music, and dubbed humorously as “Blur Effect”. There is a bit more to it than that, as the performance increase was specific to the spatio-temporal tasks, but given that music unfolds temporally and that melodies and rhythms are often described as having spatial characteristics (starting from “low” and “high” notes”, melodies being described as (virtual) movement, rhythmic patterns being similar than sounds of locomotion etc.) it is possible that music primes the participant (probably activating the relevant parts of brain) for those kinds of tasks. However, these effects are general for music, not something that would be specifically encoded in the music by Mozart the Mystery Man.
Now that the scientific community has dealt with this sensational study (and of course learned a lot in the process, received attention, funding and general interest that it wouldn’t have if Rauscher and others had been less eager to promote their findings), the second wave of Mozart Effect is on our doorstep. An Israeli study claims that Mozart helps babies to gain weight.
The researchers are specialists of pediatrics, but clearly not of music. They found that 30 minutes of Mozart makes the babies expend less energy afterwards and this helps them gain weight – an important thing especially for prematurely born babies. While being experts on fat content of mothers’ milk, they admit not knowing anything on music cognition, as they say that the mechanism of the music’s effect is unknown. I don’t understand why they didn’t ask someone who knows anything about how music affects the body – any music therapist or music psychologist would have been able to tell them about this. It’s not a mystery, a world beyond our reach, or a treacherous, uncharted sea where be dragons. Google Scholar search for keywords “music” and “physiology” gives 64 000 hits. Reading any of those links would have helped. Would it be possible that music calms the babies down? We all know music has this effect, this is why lullabies are used in all cultures.
The most shocking point of that press release (I’m taking this with a pinch of salt as it is a document written by a press office, not the original paper, which I haven’t found yet) is that while the study only compared Mozart with silence, the authors still speculate on why Mozart is special, and how for example Beethoven wouldn’t work. How do they know without even testing it?
They guess it is the repetitiveness, and someone has therefore ventured a guess that hip hop would work well, too. All I’m hoping is that they’d contact a music researcher (they’d find some in their own university, even someone specialised in music cognition) to give them a hand in really figuring out what this effect is about, before we find another wave of Mozart CD salesmen on our doorsteps.
(I edited this post somewhat to correct the error that Mozart Effect was trademarked by the authors of the original study – it was done by Dan Campbell who has no connection to the authors. Also, the original paper says nothing about increased intelligence, that was a shortcut taken by the press (and people like Campbell), as “improving performance in a spatio-temporal task” was too complicated a term. TH 11.1.2010)