Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Cognitive Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 76 pages) : illustrations (some color), music.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Heather Sheridan

Committee Members

Laurie B Feldman, Ronald Friedman


chunking, expertise, eye movements, music expertise, templates, Visual perception, Visual learning, Eye tracking, Sight-reading (Music), Musical perception, Memory, Recollection (Psychology)

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology


Across two experiments, I examined the extent to which three predictions of the chunking and template framework of expertise generalize to the music-reading domain: 1) Experts show perceptual advantages that allow for superior performance in a domain-specific task; 2) Experts’ can identify familiar patterns, which allow them to rapidly detect relevant regions of a stimulus; and 3) Experts’ superior perceptual abilities are domain-specific. In Study 1, the eye movements of expert musicians and non-musicians were recorded while they searched for a complex visual search target (i.e., a bar of piano sheet music) that was located within a search array (i.e., a larger music score containing the target bar). In support for this framework, non-musicians had lower accuracy for the sequential condition (i.e., the search target was presented prior to the search array) relative to the simultaneous condition (i.e., the search target and search array were presented simultaneously), but expert performance did not differ across trial types. Eye-movement behaviors supported experts’ domain-specific perceptual advantages. Study 2 investigated how visual manipulations (i.e., perceptual grouping and note legality) of music features could facilitate memory performance for experts, but not for non-musicians. “Legal-Beamed” notes (i.e., 5-6 notes beamed and in a legal order) and “Random-Unbeamed” notes (i.e., 5-6 notes unbeamed in a random order) were contrasted in an online same-different judgment task. Though experts showed superior performance relative to the non-musicians (supporting Prediction 1), the visual manipulations affected all participants. The results of Study 2 suggest that chunking and template mechanisms could rely on a deeper relationships between the parts of a domain-specific stimulus. Overall, support for these three predictions of chunking and template theories of expertise extending to the music-reading domain is found.