Navigation Links
Theory: Music underlies language acquisition
Date:9/18/2012

HOUSTON (Sept. 18, 2012) Contrary to the prevailing theories that music and language are cognitively separate or that music is a byproduct of language, theorists at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) advocate that music underlies the ability to acquire language.

"Spoken language is a special type of music," said Anthony Brandt, co-author of a theory paper published online this month in the journal Frontiers in Cognitive Auditory Neuroscience. "Language is typically viewed as fundamental to human intelligence, and music is often treated as being dependent on or derived from language. But from a developmental perspective, we argue that music comes first and language arises from music."

Brandt, associate professor of composition and theory at the Shepherd School, co-authored the paper with Shepherd School graduate student Molly Gebrian and L. Robert Slevc, UMCP assistant professor of psychology and director of the Language and Music Cognition Lab.

"Infants listen first to sounds of language and only later to its meaning," Brandt said. He noted that newborns' extensive abilities in different aspects of speech perception depend on the discrimination of the sounds of language "the most musical aspects of speech."

The paper cites various studies that show what the newborn brain is capable of, such as the ability to distinguish the phonemes, or basic distinctive units of speech sound, and such attributes as pitch, rhythm and timbre.

The authors define music as "creative play with sound." They said the term "music" implies an attention to the acoustic features of sound irrespective of any referential function. As adults, people focus primarily on the meaning of speech. But babies begin by hearing language as "an intentional and often repetitive vocal performance," Brandt said. "They listen to it not only for its emotional content but also for its rhythmic and phonemic patterns and consistencies. The meaning of words comes later."

Brandt and his co-authors challenge the prevailing view that music cognition matures more slowly than language cognition and is more difficult. "We show that music and language develop along similar time lines," he said.

Infants initially don't distinguish well between their native language and all the languages of the world, Brandt said. Throughout the first year of life, they gradually hone in on their native language. Similarly, infants initially don't distinguish well between their native musical traditions and those of other cultures; they start to hone in on their own musical culture at the same time that they hone in on their native language, he said.

The paper explores many connections between listening to speech and music. For example, recognizing the sound of different consonants requires rapid processing in the temporal lobe of the brain. Similarly, recognizing the timbre of different instruments requires temporal processing at the same speed -- a feature of musical hearing that has often been overlooked, Brandt said.

"You can't distinguish between a piano and a trumpet if you can't process what you're hearing at the same speed that you listen for the difference between 'ba' and 'da,'" he said. "In this and many other ways, listening to music and speech overlap." The authors argue that from a musical perspective, speech is a concert of phonemes and syllables.

"While music and language may be cognitively and neurally distinct in adults, we suggest that language is simply a subset of music from a child's view," Brandt said. "We conclude that music merits a central place in our understanding of human development."

Brandt said more research on this topic might lead to a better understanding of why music therapy is helpful for people with reading and speech disorders. People with dyslexia often have problems with the performance of musical rhythm. "A lot of people with language deficits also have musical deficits," Brandt said.

More research could also shed light on rehabilitation for people who have suffered a stroke. "Music helps them reacquire language, because that may be how they acquired language in the first place," Brandt said.


'/>"/>

Contact: B.J. Almond
balmond@rice.edu
713-348-6770
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Diners Eat Less When Restaurant Has Soft Lighting, Music
2. Childhood Music Lessons May Create Better Listeners
3. Musicians Brains Might Have an Edge on Aging
4. Musical glove improves sensation, mobility for people with spinal cord injury
5. Device converting images into music helps individuals without vision reach for objects in space
6. 'Music Makes It Better' Campaign Launches with Justin Bieber, Victoria Justice, and The Band Perry
7. Raucous Music May Tap Into Your Inner Animal
8. NJIT designer creates an ergonomic chair for musicians
9. Teens Love of Loud Music Tied to Drinking, Drug Abuse
10. Sexual objectification of female artists in music videos exists regardless of race, MU study finds
11. Language Barrier Hurts Elderly Asthma Patients
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/28/2017)... ... April 28, 2017 , ... Children ... to more adverse experiences than children in the general population. That’s because foster ... neglect or other family challenges. While no fault of their own, youth who ...
(Date:4/28/2017)... ... ... People are starting to accept that hearing aids can be helpful and ... it had when great-grandpa wore his hearing aids years ago,” said Dr. Maura Marks, ... American Speaker Series (NASS) segment. “He probably wore an iPod-size hearing aid on ...
(Date:4/28/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... April 28, 2017 , ... ... Manager for the North East region. Côté has 20+ years of experience within ... to Phytomer, Côté worked with an array of high-end cosmetic brands, retail brands ...
(Date:4/28/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... April 28, 2017 , ... Rob Lowe ... and now he has leant his presence to an educational purpose as the host ... one important one being cancer. In a recent episode, the series focuses on thyroid ...
(Date:4/27/2017)... ... April 27, 2017 , ... The Incentive Research Foundation is ... Nudge Guide," a groundbreaking analysis of how behavioral economics can be applied to ... to IRR programs, the report highlights proven behavioral economics approaches and the powerful ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... , April 20, 2017  Cogentix Medical, ... focused on providing the Urology, Uro/Gyn and Gynecology ... that Ash Keswani has joined the Company as ... this newly created position, Mr. Keswani will report ... CEO. "Our organization is delighted that ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... Research and Markets has announced ... Market Prospects: Addressing Production Complexities Through Risk Management and ... ... Pipeline and Market Prospects: Overcoming Production Complexities Through Risk ... of the current trends in the global biosimilars market, ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... 2017  CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of ... store design to enhance the retail customer experience ... products and expanded beauty selections paired with informational ... new offerings. Together with its innovative digital programs, ... customer experience at CVS Pharmacy.  ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: