ERP responses to cross-cultural melodic expectancy violations

Steven M. Demorest*, Lee Osterhout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In this preliminary study, we measured event-related potentials (ERPs) to melodic expectancy violations in a cross-cultural context. Subjects (n= 10) were college-age students born and raised in the United States. Subjects heard 30 short melodies based in the Western folk tradition and 30 from North Indian classical music. Each melody was presented in its original and deviation form, and subjects were asked to judge the congruence of the melody. Results indicated that subjects found the Indian melodies less congruous overall and were less sensitive to deviations in the Indian melody condition. ERP data were partly consistent with the behavioral data with significant P600 responses to deviations in both cultural conditions, but less robust in the Indian context. Results are interpreted in light of previous research on listeners' abilities to generate expectancies in unfamiliar cultures and the possibility of overlap in the scale systems influencing the findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-157
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Culture
  • Event-related potential
  • Melodic expectancy
  • Music cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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