Information Processing Theory Approach

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(From cognitive psychology). Aka ‘clock counter’ model: A mental mechanism capable of determining the statistical nature of musical structures. Tone onsets are thought to trigger a counting process implemented by both 1) an accumulator — which produces irregularly spaced clock ticks — and 2) a counter, which counts these ticks. There is thought to be variability in the timing of ticks as well as occasional counting errors, thus the theory conforms well with the kinds of variable and error-prone responses typically observed in time estimation experiments. Clock ticks are thought to correspond to spontaneous action potentials, i.e., neural spikes. The information processing theory approach to rhythm is typically contrasted with entrainment models, which are thought to be better at capturing  the mind’s ability 1) to adapt to stimulus fluctuations and 2) to treat periods at integer-multiples as functionally similar (Tan et al., 2010: 105–106).


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  1. Citations need to be re-checked: not clear when they start and specific source not cited (“Author, Date: Page” should follow end of quotation in parentheses).

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