Conceptual priming studies have shown that listening to musical primes triggers semantic activation. The present study further investigated with a free semantic evocation task, 1) how rhythmic vs. textural structures affect the amount of words evoked after a musical sequence, and 2) whether both features also affect the content of the semantic activation. Rhythmic sequences were composed of various percussion sounds with a strong underlying beat and metrical structure. Textural sound sequences consisted of blended timbres and sound sources evolving over time without identifiable pulse. Participants were asked to verbalize the concepts evoked by the musical sequences. We measured the number of words and lemmas produced after having listened to musical sequences of each condition, and we analyzed whether specific concepts were associated with each sequence type. Results showed that more words and lemmas were produced for textural sound sequences than for rhythmic sequences and that some concepts were specifically associated with each musical condition. Our findings suggest that listening to musical excerpts emphasizing different features influences semantic activation in different ways and extent. This might possibly be instantiated via cognitive mechanisms triggered by the acoustic characteristics of the excerpts as well as the perceived emotions.

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