We examined how children (5- and 8-year-olds) associate changes in musical parameters with bodily motion, using movement and verbal tasks. In Task 1, participants moved to short musical stimuli involving bidirectional changes in pitch, loudness, or tempo. In Task 2, participants selected motion features appropriate to the same stimuli (forced-choice verbal task). In Task 1 the distribution of movement features significantly varied for different musical parameters: pitch change associated most strongly with vertical motion, loudness change with muscular energy and vertical motion, and tempo change with speed and muscular energy. In both tasks and for both ages, directions of change in motion and musical parameters correlated, e.g., increase in loudness was associated with increasing speed, increasing muscular energy, and spatial rise. The effect of pitch direction was mediated by temporal order, suggesting that overall pitch contour, rather than local direction only, affects bodily motion. Age affected responses to pitch direction, rather than loudness or tempo change. Results suggest that children consistently correlate musical and movement features through both verbal and motion responses, presenting an intricate web of auditory-motor-cognitive mappings.

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