Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Erin Hannon

Second Committee Member

Joel Snyder

Third Committee Member

Jennifer Rennels

Fourth Committee Member

Alyssa Crittenden

Number of Pages



Rhythm is ubiquitous to human communication, coordination, and experience of music. In this dissertation, I address three empirical questions through three different methodologies, all of which contribute to the growing body of literature on human auditory rhythm processing. In Chapter 2, I present a registered report detailing the results of independent conceptual replications of Nozaradan, Peretz, Missal, & Mouraux (2011), all using the same vetted protocol. Listeners performed the same tasks as in Nozaradan et al. (2011), with the addition of behavioral measures of perception. In neuroscience, neural correlates to musical beat perception have been identified, yet little to no replication of seminal findings in this area leaves room for error. Meta-analyses will estimate the true population-level effect size and examine potential moderating variables. In Chapter 3, I examine the developmental trajectory of sustained musical beat perception and the relation to phonology in children. While some prior research has suggested that the beat (periodic pulse) in music can be perceived by humans as early as days after birth, more recent work (including that presented here) suggests a more elongated trajectory of attainment for this capacity, through adolescence. In this study, participants aged 4-23 years completed a musical beat discrimination task and a phonology task. Results suggest that subjective musical beat perception improves throughout middle childhood (8-9 years) and does not reach adult-like levels until adolescence (12-14 years). Furthermore, scores on the subjective beat task were positively related to phonology. Finally in Chapter 4, I investigate whether children assimilate rhythms to culture-specific structures, as previously shown with adults. Previous studies show that both adults and children can entrain their movements to a perceived musical beat, but children tend to perform much worse than adults, and whether children assimilate their tapping behavior to predictable rhythmic structures remains to be understood. In this study, children aged 6-11 years completed a rhythm perception task and a rhythm production task. In the perception task, children showed greater sensitivity to rhythmic disruptions of culturally familiar simple-meter than unfamiliar complex-meter songs. Overall, the results of these three studies demonstrate one of the first pre-registered EEG replication studies in the field of auditory neuroscience, that musical sustained beat perception develops gradually throughout childhood, and that children’s tapping behavior demonstrates enculturation to rhythm as early as 6 years of age.


auditory perception; beat; development; EEG; music; rhythm


Cognitive Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Medical Neurobiology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Neurosciences

File Format


File Size

2800 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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