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      The Musicality of Non-Musicians: An Index for Assessing Musical Sophistication in the General Population

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          Abstract

          Musical skills and expertise vary greatly in Western societies. Individuals can differ in their repertoire of musical behaviours as well as in the level of skill they display for any single musical behaviour. The types of musical behaviours we refer to here are broad, ranging from performance on an instrument and listening expertise, to the ability to employ music in functional settings or to communicate about music. In this paper, we first describe the concept of ‘musical sophistication’ which can be used to describe the multi-faceted nature of musical expertise. Next, we develop a novel measurement instrument, the Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index (Gold-MSI) to assess self-reported musical skills and behaviours on multiple dimensions in the general population using a large Internet sample (n = 147,636). Thirdly, we report results from several lab studies, demonstrating that the Gold-MSI possesses good psychometric properties, and that self-reported musical sophistication is associated with performance on two listening tasks. Finally, we identify occupation, occupational status, age, gender, and wealth as the main socio-demographic factors associated with musical sophistication. Results are discussed in terms of theoretical accounts of implicit and statistical music learning and with regard to social conditions of sophisticated musical engagement.

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          Most cited references 36

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          An introduction to recursive partitioning: rationale, application, and characteristics of classification and regression trees, bagging, and random forests.

          Recursive partitioning methods have become popular and widely used tools for nonparametric regression and classification in many scientific fields. Especially random forests, which can deal with large numbers of predictor variables even in the presence of complex interactions, have been applied successfully in genetics, clinical medicine, and bioinformatics within the past few years. High-dimensional problems are common not only in genetics, but also in some areas of psychological research, where only a few subjects can be measured because of time or cost constraints, yet a large amount of data is generated for each subject. Random forests have been shown to achieve a high prediction accuracy in such applications and to provide descriptive variable importance measures reflecting the impact of each variable in both main effects and interactions. The aim of this work is to introduce the principles of the standard recursive partitioning methods as well as recent methodological improvements, to illustrate their usage for low and high-dimensional data exploration, but also to point out limitations of the methods and potential pitfalls in their practical application. Application of the methods is illustrated with freely available implementations in the R system for statistical computing. (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved.
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            Statistical learning by 8-month-old infants.

            Learners rely on a combination of experience-independent and experience-dependent mechanisms to extract information from the environment. Language acquisition involves both types of mechanisms, but most theorists emphasize the relative importance of experience-independent mechanisms. The present study shows that a fundamental task of language acquisition, segmentation of words from fluent speech, can be accomplished by 8-month-old infants based solely on the statistical relationships between neighboring speech sounds. Moreover, this word segmentation was based on statistical learning from only 2 minutes of exposure, suggesting that infants have access to a powerful mechanism for the computation of statistical properties of the language input.
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              Music training for the development of auditory skills.

              The effects of music training in relation to brain plasticity have caused excitement, evident from the popularity of books on this topic among scientists and the general public. Neuroscience research has shown that music training leads to changes throughout the auditory system that prime musicians for listening challenges beyond music processing. This effect of music training suggests that, akin to physical exercise and its impact on body fitness, music is a resource that tones the brain for auditory fitness. Therefore, the role of music in shaping individual development deserves consideration.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1932-6203
                2014
                26 February 2014
                : 9
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, United Kingdom
                [2 ]Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
                UNLV, United States of America
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have the following interests: The technical implementation of the large internet survey was carried out by BBC Lab UK. However, it needs to be noted that BBC Lab UK did not give any funding towards the research. This does not alter the authors’ adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials, as detailed online in the guide for authors.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: DM BG JM LS. Performed the experiments: DM BG JM LS. Analyzed the data: DM JM. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: DM JM. Wrote the paper: DM LS BG.

                Article
                PONE-D-13-05871
                10.1371/journal.pone.0089642
                3935919
                24586929

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Pages: 23
                Funding
                The research was supported by a Goldsmiths Early Career Development grant awarded to Daniel Mullensiefen in 2010. The technical implementation of the large internet survey was supported and carried by BBC Lab UK. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
                Research Article
                Social and behavioral sciences
                Psychology
                Cognitive psychology
                Experimental psychology
                Psychometrics
                Sensory perception
                Social psychology
                Sociology
                Culture
                Cultural resources
                Social stratification

                Uncategorized

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