Absolute pitch in boreal chickadees and humans: exceptions that test a phylogenetic rule

Author
Weisman, R. G.
Balkwill, L.
Hoeschele, M.
Moscicki, Michele
Bloomfield, L. L.
Sturdy, C. B.
Faculty Advisor
Date
2010
Keywords
pitch height , pitch chroma , songbirds , humans , music , frequency range , boreal chickadees , absolute pitch , animals
Abstract (summary)
This research examined generality of the phylogenetic rule that birds discriminate frequency ranges more accurately than mammals. Human absolute pitch chroma possessors accurately tracked transitions between frequency ranges. Independent tests showed that they used note naming (pitch chroma) to remap the tones into ranges; neither possessors nor nonpossessors were accurate at octave (pitch height) naming. Boreal chickadees discriminated frequency ranges less accurately than other birds; they tracked reward across several lower frequency ranges but failed at frequencies over 4000 Hz. The results revealed the error of describing species differences solely in terms of their discrimination of frequency ranges. Exceptions to the rule disappear when the rule is restated in terms of underlying mechanism: birds are superior to mammals in the ability to use absolute pitch height perception to discriminate pitches and ranges of pitches.
Publication Information
Weisman, R. G., Balkwill, L.-L., Hoeschele, M., Moscicki, M. K., Bloomfield, L. L., & Sturdy, C. B. (2010). Absolute pitch in boreal chickadees and humans: exceptions that test a phylogenetic rule. Learning and Motivation, 41(3), 156–173. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lmot.2010.04.002
DOI
Notes
Item Type
Article
Language
English
Rights
All Rights Reserved