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Musicians and nonmusicians performed auditory recognition/discrimination tasks with digit sequences and brief melodies presented monaurally and dichotically. Musicians performed better than non-musicians with melodies, but there were no differences between groups with digits. When music and digits were presented to opposite ears, there was little mutual interference; that is, this “combined dichotic” condition showed little performance decrement over the monaural condition, though digits produced more interference with melody recognition than vice versa. When either digits or melodies were presented to both ears dichotically there was considerable interference. Subjects showed a right ear advantage for digit processing, especially in the dichotic conditions. Musicians showed a left ear advantage for melody processing in the dichotic conditions. The combination of considerable dichotic interference of melodies with melodies and digits with digits, and the relative lack of interference between the two classes of stimuli suggest that separate information processing systems may be used for music and speech.
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