we investigated working memory (WM) performance for tone sequences that either respected musical regularities (tonal sequences) or did not (atonal sequences) using a forward and a backward recognition task. Participants indicated whether two sequences were the same or different, with “same” being defined as all tones played correctly in either the same order (forward task) or backward order (backward task). For the forward task, nonmusician and musician participants showed better performance for tonal than for atonal sequences, therefore supporting the hypothesis that musically structured material increased WM performance during maintenance of tone information. For the backward task, neither nonmusicians nor musicians showed better performance for tonal compared to atonal sequences. Our findings suggest that musical structure influences WM for tones during maintenance (forward recognition task), but not during manipulation (backward recognition task).

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