We examined the interaction between music and tone language experience as related to relative pitch processing by having participants judge the direction and magnitude of pitch changes in a relative pitch task. Participants’ performance on this relative pitch task was assessed using the Cochran-Weiss-Shanteau (CWS) index of expertise, based on a ratio of discrimination over consistency in participants’ relative pitch judgments. Testing took place in 2 separate sessions on different days to assess the effects of practice on participants’ performance. Participants also completed the Montreal Battery of Evaluation of Amusia (MBEA), an existing measure comprising subtests aimed at evaluating relative pitch processing abilities. Musicians outperformed nonmusicians on both the relative pitch task, as measured by the CWS index, and the MBEA, but tonal language speakers outperformed non-tonal language speakers only on the MBEA. A closer look at the discrimination and consistency component scores of the CWS index revealed that musicians were better at discriminating different pitches and more consistent in their assessments of the direction and magnitude of relative pitch change.

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