Cultural Foundations of Auditory Perception

Over 90% of psychology experiments between 2003-2007 were conducted on WEIRD subjects, hailing from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic societies (Arnett 2008). Henrich et al. (2010) have argued that these populations constitute an extremely biased sample across several critical dimensions, manifested in paradigms from basic visual and spatial perception to social cognition. Even less is known about cross-cultural differences and similarities in the auditory modality. The group research plan integrates elements from neuroscience, psychology, cultural anthropology, and ethnomusicology with the aim of significantly increasing our knowledge about the cultural foundations of auditory perception. We will be using recent computational techniques such as iterated learning (Jacoby and McDermott 2017; Xu et al. 2013; Sanborn and Griffiths 2015) alongside classical psychophysical methods and music cognition paradigms to increase the bandwidth of field measurements, thereby providing detailed characterizations of internal representation across cultures.


Josh McDermott, Rainer Polak

Featured publications

Polak, Rainer*, Nori Jacoby*, Timo Fischinger, Daniel Goldberg, Andre Holzapfel, and Justin London. "Rhythmic prototypes across cultures. A comparative study of tapping synchronization." Music Perception, 36.1 (2018): 1-23. DOI: 10.1525/mp.2018.36.1.1. *Equal Contribution