Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Grahn, Jessica A.


Behavioural and neural differences associated with strong and weak-beat rhythms may indicate that strong-beat rhythms are more familiar stimuli than weak-beat rhythms, or differences may be because intervals in strong-beat rhythms are more easily encoded relative to a beat. To test these different possibilities, participants were trained to reproduce strong-, weak-, and non-beat rhythms over 4 days, in an attempt to equate familiarity across the different categories of rhythms. On a fifth day, participants were tested on their ability to reproduce these same rhythms at learned, slower, and faster rates, as well as novel rhythms. Participants improved performance on all rhythms across the 4 training sessions, but were still more accurate for strong-beat than weak- or non-beat rhythms after training. Accuracy for rescaled (slower and faster) versions of the rhythms was not different from accuracy for learned rates, and all trained rhythms, regardless of rate, were reproduced more accurately than novel rhythms. Though the results are not conclusive about the two proposed explanations for behavioural and neural differences between strong and weak-beat rhythms, findings indicate that possibly both familiarity and beat strength play roles in improving timing performance.