WHEN PROCESSING MUSIC STIMULI, MOST PEOPLE show a global bias (e.g., Evers et al., 1999). Extensive music training, however, develops both global (Halpern & Bower, 1982) and local (Burton et al., 1989) music processing abilities. Our goal was to determine whether enhancement of musicians' local processing abilities is domain-specific or extends to processing nonmusical, visual stimuli. Musicians outperformed nonmusicians on the Group Embedded Figures Test (Experiment 1) and on Block Design (Experiment 2). Additionally, musicians' ability to copy drawings of physically impossible objects accurately was also superior to that of nonmusicians (Experiment 2). These effects could not be accounted for by group differences in several demographic indicators (age, education, gender, or SES), or (in Experiment 2) in verbal intelligence. The results provide converging evidence that extensive music training is specifically associated with superior visual processing of local details, beyond any benefits it may have on verbal intelligence.
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