Effects of global and local contexts on chord processing: An ERP study

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Abstract

In real life, the processing of an incoming event is continuously influenced by prior information at multiple timescales. The present study investigated how harmonic contexts at both local and global levels influence the processing of an incoming chord in an event-related potentials experiment. Chord sequences containing two phrases were presented to musically trained listeners, with the last critical chord either harmonically related or less related to its preceding context at local and/or global levels. ERPs data showed an ERAN-like effect for local context in early time window and a N5-like component for later interaction between the local context and global context. These results suggest that both the local and global contexts influence the processing of an incoming music event, and the local effect happens earlier than the global. Moreover, the interaction between the local context and global context in N5 may suggest that music syntactic integration at local level takes place prior to the integration at global level.

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