THE EFFECT OF DIOPTRIC BLUR ON SIGHT-READING MUSIC

Title THE EFFECT OF DIOPTRIC BLUR ON SIGHT-READING MUSIC
Author, Co-Author Melanie Akau, Deyue Yu, Susana Chung
Topic
Year
2010
Day
Wednesday
Program Number
105135
Room
Third Floor Foyer
Affiliation
University of California Berkeley, School of Optometry
Abstract PURPOSE: Previous studies showed that dioptric blur degrades visual acuity and the critical print size for text reading. Does dioptric blur also affect sight-reading performance? Given that different elements of printed music convey pitch and rhythm information, we hypothesized that the effect of dioptric blur on the accuracy of pitch and rhythm might differ.

METHODS: Five young experienced piano-players with normal vision played a Yamaha keyboard using only the right hand while sight-reading short pieces of music. Their responses were recorded using the Finale PrintMusic notation program, and were scored offline for accuracy of both pitch and rhythm. Testing was conducted monocularly in the presence of dioptric blur (no blur, 1, 2, 3 & 4 D) induced using convex trial lenses placed in front of the dilated tested eye, and with a 3 mm artificial pupil in place. Fifty 12-measure pieces of music (4 measures per line, total number of notes per piece = 38.2±4.4[SD]) with similar spatial complexity scores (printed ink area) were composed, then printed at 11 note sizes ranging from-0.2 to 0.8 logMAR (defined as the height of a notehead). For each blur level, a piece of music at the smallest note size that would be tested was used for subjects to first establish a comfortable baseline tempo and to practice. Ten pieces of music, two at each of five note sizes, were then tested. The sequences of testing the five note sizes at each blur level, and the five levels of blur, were randomized.

RESULTS: In general, accuracy for both pitch and rhythm increased with note size until the critical note size (CNS), beyond which accuracy did not depend on note size. Averaged across subjects, CNS increased with blur level (from no-blur to 4 D) at a similar rate for both pitch and rhythm:-0.06 to 0.42 logMAR for pitch, and-0.12 to 0.37 logMAR for rhythm.

CONCLUSIONS: Like visual acuity and text reading, music reading is susceptible to the degrading effect of dioptric blur, which affects pitch and rhythm similarly. However, the degrading effect can be compensated for by magnification.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Support: NIH grants R01-EY012810 & R01-EY016093
Affiliation of Co-Authors University of California Berkeley, School of Optometry, University of California Berkeley, School of Optometry
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