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Walker, R. (1987). The effects of culture, environment, age, and musical training on choices of visual metaphors for sound. Perception & Psychophysics, 42(5), 491–502. 
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard (3/6/06, 1:30 PM)   
Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Walker1987
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Categories: Semiology
Keywords: Metaphor, Perception, Psychology
Creators: Walker
Collection: Perception & Psychophysics
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"Studies involving acts of auditory perception are usually concerned with scaling or categorization of stimuli. Cross-modal studies, consequently, involve matching estimations of stimulus magnitude or category across modalities. The present study was concerned with auditory stimulus differentiation among four acoustic parameters (frequency, waveform, amplitude, and duration) and selection of visual metaphors for each. Previous studies had indicated the following cross-modal matchings: frequency with vertical placement, waveform with pattern, amplitude with size, and duration with horizontal length. A total of 838 subjects of varying ages and cultural, environmental, and musical backgrounds were tested by means of an instrument developed from previous studies of this type. No type of visual metaphor other than those listed was significantly supported in the subjects' responses. Consistency of choice was determined predominantly by musical training. Age was also a factor, although to a lesser extent, and cultural and environmental effects were observed in subjects with less exposure to Western life-styles."
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard  
p.492   "The more complex the sound, the more diffuse and arbitrary tended to be the visual representation devised by many groups of children"   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Perception
p.493   "...certain types of experience (e.g. musical training) are more important influences that others (e.g., [sic] language and environment) in auditory/visual integration tasks involving frequency change and vertical visual deployment"   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Perception
p.500   From the experiment: "Musical training is the most important single factor in choices of visual metaphor for sounds ... Age is a factor, but of less importance. Culture and environment were found to be significant factors for one cultural group, which lived in a more isolated environment than the others"   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Perception
p.491   There is a Western musical-visual correlate of increasing pitch with rising vertical placement (cf. placment of notes on a staff) -- this is subjective though as there is no direct perceptual correlate between more frequency and being higher on a vertical scale. Compare this to increasing amplitude and the visual correlate of larger size.

Frequency and visual vertical placement might be better discussed in terms of cross-modal integration or intersensory coordination. Intensity correlates can be termed amodal because the sensation of intensity is not specific to one modality whether that be hearing, sight or another sense.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Perception
p.501   On the basis of the experiment there are indications that musical training may have an effect on other correlates than frequency with vertical placement"   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Perception