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Infants’ recognition of a well-known song through melody and lyrics

Infants’ recognition of a well-known song through melody and lyrics

Presenter Name:Angela, Dou

School/Affiliation:University of Toronto Scarborough

Co-Authors:Laura K. Cirelli


Familiar songs hold significance in infants’ everyday musical environments. They encourage social preference, rhythmic movement, and attentive listening. Behavioural studies suggest that infants recognize familiar songs by their first birthday, but it is yet unclear how melody and lyrics interact to drive infant recognition of well-known songs. This study explores how infants at 6- and 11-months of age respond to a well-known song from their daily repertoire (i.e., Wheels on the Bus), compared to an original composition and two versions mismatched in melodic and lyrical familiarity (i.e., well-known melody or lyrics paired with novel melody or lyrics). Infants’ preferential listening to these four song conditions will be observed through their attentive, emotional, motor, and social responsiveness. Data collection for older infants is ongoing (current N = 25), will be complete by December 2022, and will continue with younger infants in early 2023. We predict that older infants will demonstrate integration of melody and lyrics through selective preference for Wheels on the Bus over the three other song conditions. This prediction will be tested in this poster presentation via preliminary analyses that will not impact data collection plans. The younger cohort may instead prefer all song conditions with familiar musical cues, including both well-known and mismatched songs, over the novel song. Our findings will allow us to track how complex and naturalistic melodies and lyrics contribute to developing song familiarity preferences in early infancy, furthering our understanding of early auditory learning through musical communication.

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