Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Sharon Mutter (Director), Andrew Mienaltowski, and Matthew Shake

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


In this study we investigated whether a musical prime would produce a contextspecificity effect in predictive learning. Participants were divided into six conditions of a spy-radio predictive learning task. The six conditions were comprised of a combination of three primes (i.e. visual, music, or both) and two learning phase groups (i.e. retrieve, default). The primes indicated the type of stimulus used to prime the temporal context for the test cue-outcome association. The learning phase groups indicated which temporal context would be primed. In the retrieve group, learning Phase 1 was primed; in the default group learning Phase 2 was primed. The presence of a temporal contextspecificity effect was indicated by lower test predictive judgments for the test cue X in the retrieve group and higher test predictive judgments for this cue in the default group. We hypothesized that all three types of primes would lead to a significant contextspecificity effect. Furthermore, we hypothesized that the context-specificity effect would be strongest in the both prime condition because, with the presentation of both the visual and musical primes, participants would have more information about the learning phase temporal context to inform their test predictive judgment. The results partially supported the first hypothesis as there was a significant context-specificity effect with the visual prime. However, contrary to our hypotheses, we did not obtain a context-specificity effect with the music prime or both prime. Despite the lack of a context-specificity effect in the music prime condition, a relationship between participant musical expertise and predictive judgment suggested that the music did have an effect on context-specificity in predictive learning.


Cognitive Psychology | Educational Psychology | Music