The relationships between musical complexity preferences, musical aptitude and executive function
The relationships between musical complexity preferences, musical aptitude and executive function Pearson_Charlotte.pdf This thesis investigates the relationships between a person’s musical complexity preferences, musical ability and cognitive executive functions. Previous research has found that musical training is linked to preferences for more complex music and to better performance on executive function tasks, particularly for working memory and inhibitory control. Previous research also suggests that men tend to prefer music of higher complexity than women. However, previous studies do not draw a connection between musical preference and executive function. Further, the focus of these studies is musical training; the connections between musical performance and executive function or complexity preference are not examined exclusively in non-musicians. The present study tested 23 students of high and low musicianship to elucidate three relationships. The first was between musical complexity preferences and musical ability, measured in a rhythm entrainment task and melodic recognition task. The second was between musical performance and executive function in working memory and rhythm entrainment tasks. The third was an over-arching relationship between musical complexity preference and executive function. In the present study, participants with better melodic ability displayed better attentional executive function; attentional performance was further related with better singing ability. Better melodic ability, as measured by the mini-PROMS test of musical aptitude, was related with several musical sophistication measures in the Goldsmith Index of Musical Sophistication; this supports the PROMS as an assessment of musical ability. In contrast to previous complexity studies, no difference was found in complexity preferences between male and female participants. However, males performed significantly better than females in a test of attention.