Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Stephen Romero




binary, meter, attention, quaternary, effect


Rhythm can often be broken down in a binary fashion-strong and weak beats. Theories of rhythmic attention posit that attention is heightened on strong metric positions that are accented or otherwise different from weak positions. Abecasis et al., (2004) used the magnitude of the P300 Event Related Potential (ERP) to determine the processing of an oddball at different metrical positions and found a preference for binary metrical structures, akin to a march, as opposed to a ternary metrical structure, akin to a waltz. This previous study did not, however, assess quaternary meter, a derivative of binary meter. Moreover, a quaternary meter could explain if an increased expectancy of a stimulus due to a delay of presentation (i.e., a sequential effect) contributes to the amplitude of a P300 response. This study tested the preference for a binary meter by introducing a new paradigm and quantification of the sequential effect. The data suggests that binary meter may be preferred as P300 average amplitude was highest on the strong beat even in quaternary meter, supporting rhythmic attention theory. The quaternary condition did not seem to follow rhythmic attention while the binary condition did, and the predicted sequential effect in both meters was not apparent.