Cognitive Processing

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 495–506 | Cite as

Reaching for the high note: judgments of auditory pitch are affected by kinesthetic position

  • Autumn B. HostetterEmail author
  • Christina M. Dandar
  • Gabrielle Shimko
  • Colin Grogan
Research Article


Auditory pitch is represented on a vertical continuum (e.g., high vs. low). In three experiments, we examined whether the kinesthetic experience of moving in a particular direction (e.g., walking up vs. down stairs; reaching up vs. down) would affect judgments of auditory pitch. Participants listened to three tones twice each, once while moving upward and once while moving downward, and estimated the pitch of each tone. In all experiments, participants’ judgments of the tones’ pitch were biased in the direction of their movement. Moreover, this effect is not due to visibility of the movement or to using a numerical response method. Our results suggest that kinesthetic information from one’s own bodily movements biases pitch estimation, and several possible mechanisms for the effect are discussed.


Auditory pitch Kinesthetic information Cross-modal priming 



We thank Ethel Mogilevsky for her assistance with data collection and Chelsea Miller for her assistance with data coding. We also thank Siu-Lan Tan for her advice regarding the design of Experiment 3.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest regarding the results of these studies.

Ethical standards

All procedures performed in the studies described were in accordance with ethical standards of the Institutional Review Board at Kalamazoo College and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individuals who participated in the study, and there is no identifying information included about any individual participant.


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyKalamazoo CollegeKalamazooUSA

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