Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Music, Action, Motor System, Stimulus-Response Compatibility

Major Advisor

Roger Chaffin

Associate Advisor

Jay Rueckl

Associate Advisor

Heather Read

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The purpose of this research was to test the hypothesis that the visual perception of musical stimuli activates the motor system of expert musicians in ways specific to their primary instrument. In two experiments, trombonists, non-trombonist musicians, and non-musicians were asked to decide if the second note of a two-note visually presented sequence was higher or lower than the first. Participants responded by moving a joystick forward or backward to indicate a higher or lower response (Experiment 1) or by pressing buttons on a computer keyboard to indicate their response (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, response times for trombonists were slower when the potential action for performing the two-note sequence on the trombone was incompatible with the movement for a correct response on the task than when the potential action was compatible. This movement congruency effect only occurred when action required by the experimental task overlapped dimensionally with the actions required by trombone playing. There was no effect for non-trombonists in either experiment and, in Experiment 2, the movement congruity effect for trombonists was not significant. The effect of movement congruency is a kind of Stroop effect. The findings extend those of instrument specificity for musicians, demonstrated in previous studies, to a new stimulus-response interference paradigm. The results are consistent with the claims of the grounded cognition approach that the motor and perceptual systems are linked through the body’s interactions with the environment.