Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Erin Hannon

Second Committee Member

Joel Snyder

Third Committee Member

Colleen Parks

Fourth Committee Member

Diego Vega


Music and language are easily distinguishable for the average listener despite sharing many structural acoustic similarities. The Speech-to-Song illusion can give rise to both musical and linguistic percepts by inducing a perceptual switch after listening to multiple repetitions of a natural spoken utterance. As such, it has been used as a tool to control for low-level acoustic characteristics previously shown to drive lateralized brain responses regardless of domain-type, helping to disambiguate the contribution of high- versus low-level processes in both music and speech perception. However, there exists a lack of research on how large a role individual differences such as musical ability, tonal enculturation, sensitivity to speech prosody, and attention to lyrical content play in the elicitation and long-term stability of the Speech-to-Song illusion, which limits our understanding of how top-down musical and linguistic knowledge modulate perception. In our study, we measured the STS illusion by presenting listeners with excerpts known to elicit the STS illusion and asking them to rate the degree to which each repetition sounded song-like across delays from 0-56 days. To measure individual differences, we administered the Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index (Gold-MSI), a speech prosody test (PEPS-C), and a tonality test (from Corrigall & Trainor, 2015). Our results indicate the STS illusion increases in strength, is more readily elicited over delays, and also empirically validate anecdotal evidence that the STS illusion is temporally stable. Moreover, STS elicitation and consistency of STS excerpt ratings across sessions was predicted by many of our individual difference measures. This work holds important implications for understanding music and language processing, as well as memory for auditory stimuli.


Cognition; Language; Music; Perception


Cognitive Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Psychology

File Format


File Size

650 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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