Cognitive Processing

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 211–218 | Cite as

Familiarity and preference for pitch probability profiles

  • Anja-Xiaoxing CuiEmail author
  • Meghan J. Collett
  • Niko F. Troje
  • Lola L. Cuddy
Short Report


We investigated familiarity and preference judgments of participants toward a novel musical system. We exposed participants to tone sequences generated from a novel pitch probability profile. Afterward, we either asked participants to identify more familiar or we asked participants to identify preferred tone sequences in a two-alternative forced-choice task. The task paired a tone sequence generated from the pitch probability profile they had been exposed to and a tone sequence generated from another pitch probability profile at three levels of distinctiveness. We found that participants identified tone sequences as more familiar if they were generated from the same pitch probability profile which they had been exposed to. However, participants did not prefer these tone sequences. We interpret this relationship between familiarity and preference to be consistent with an inverted U-shaped relationship between knowledge and affect. The fact that participants identified tone sequences as even more familiar if they were generated from the more distinctive (caricatured) version of the pitch probability profile which they had been exposed to suggests that the statistical learning of the pitch probability profile is involved in gaining of musical knowledge.


Music cognition Pitch probability profile Statistical learning Preference Familiarity 



This study was supported by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada to LLC. We would like to thank four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anja-Xiaoxing Cui
    • 1
    Email author
  • Meghan J. Collett
    • 1
  • Niko F. Troje
    • 1
  • Lola L. Cuddy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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