We have ample evidence of cultural bias influencing music cognition in a variety of ways including memory. The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of various musical elements on Western-born listeners’ cross-cultural recognition memory performance. Specifically, we were interested in whether the enculturation effect found in previous studies would be observed when tuning, timbre, texture, and rhythm were equalized in the presentation of music from two different cultures. In addition we wanted to explore the possible influence of music preference on recognition memory performance. Listeners were randomly assigned to hear Western and Turkish music in one of three musical context conditions (full, monophonic, isochronous) and subsequently tested on their recognition memory. Results indicated that memory performance was superior for in-culture music regardless of contextual condition, with no significant correlation between preference and memory performance. This points to the statistical properties of pitch sequences as a possible source of culturally biased responses in music listening.

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