Slow potentials in a melody recognition task.

R. Verleger*, D. Schellberg

*Corresponding author for this work
2 Citations (Scopus)


In a previous study, slow negative shifts were found in the EEG of subjects listening to well-known melodies. The two experiments reported here were designed to investigate the variables to which these slow potentials are related. In the first experiment, two opposite hypotheses were tested: The slow shifts might express subjects' acquaintance with the melodies or, on the contrary, the effort invested to identify them. To this end, some of the melodies were presented in the rhythms of other melodies to make recognition more difficult. Further, melodies rated as very well-known and as very unknown were analysed separately. However, the slow shifts were not affected by these experimental variations. Therefore in the second experiment, on the one hand the purely physical parameters intensity and duration were varied, but this variation had no impact on the slow shifts either. On the other hand, recognition was made more difficult by monotonously repeating the pitch of the 4th tone for the rest of some melodies. The slow negative shifts were enhanced with these monotonous melodies. This enhancement supports the "effort" hypothesis. Accordingly, the ofter shifts obtained in both experiments might likewise reflect effort. But since the task was not demanding, it is suggested that these constant shifts reflect the effort invested for coping with the entire underarousing situation rather than with the task. Frequently, slow eye movements occurred in the same time range as the slow potentials, resulting in EOG potentials spreading to the EEG recording sites. Yet results did not change substantially when the EEG recordings were corrected for the influence of EOG potentials.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchiv fur Psychologie
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)225-244
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 01.12.1990

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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