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Abstract

The article reports three experiments conducted to determine whether musicians possess better ability of recognising the sources of natural sounds than non-musicians. The study was inspired by reports which indicate that musical training develops not only musical hearing, but also enhances various non-musical auditory capabilities. Recognition and detection thresholds were measured for recordings of environmental sounds presented in quiet (Experiment 1) and in the background of a noise masker (Experiment 2). The listener’s ability of sound source recognition was inferred from the recognition-detection threshold gap (RDTG) defined as the difference in signal level between the thresholds of sound recognition and sound detection. Contrary to what was expected from reports of enhanced auditory abilities of musicians, the RDTGs were not smaller for musicians than for non-musicians. In Experiment 3, detection thresholds were measured with an adaptive procedure comprising three interleaved stimulus tracks with different sounds. It was found that the threshold elevation caused by stimulus interleaving was similar for musicians and non-musicians. The lack of superiority of musicians over non-musicians in the auditory tasks explored in this study is explained in terms of a listening strategy known as casual listening mode, which is a basis for auditory orientation in the environment.
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