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This article offers suggestions for operational definitions distinguishing between attentional vs. expectancy processes in melody identification. “Attention” is characterized as a process that selects stimulus elements for further processing, leading to the interpretation of whatever stimuli were picked up. That is, “attended” stimuli are heard as interpretable patterns or gestalts. “Expectancy,” in contrast, in the context of discerning melodies hidden among distractors, leads to the isolation of a gestalt only when target elements more or less match the expected pattern. Otherwise, the listener is not able to interpret the auditory pattern. These suggestions are applied to a series of recent experiments that explore developmentally the consequences of violating expectancies at two levels: that of pitches within melodies, and that of pitches in the overall tonal scheme defined by a music key.

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