A SNARC-like effect for music notation: The role of expertise and musical instrument


The Spatial-Numerical Association of Response Codes (SNARC) suggests the existence of an association between number magnitude and response location, with faster left key-press responses to small numbers and faster right key-press responses to large numbers. We investigated whether a similar association exists between musical notes on the stave and the space of response execution, involving amateur and expert musicians (Experiment 1). Moreover, in Experiment 2 we further investigated such association in two groups of expert musicians (piano and transverse flute players) who differ in the note mapping on their instruments. Results indicate a clear association between musical notes and the space of response execution only for musicians with formal education. Furthermore, this association seems not to be influenced by the specific instrument played, as both piano and transverse flute players showed the same effect direction (left key-press advantage for low notes, and vice versa).


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SNARC, SMARC, music cognition, music notation, spatial response correspondence


Fumarola, A., Prpic, V., Luccio, R., Umilta, C. (2020) A SNARC-like effect for music notation: The role of expertise and musical instrument. Acta Psychologica,


Research Institute

Institute for Psychological Science