Musical training shapes neural responses to melodic and prosodic expectation.
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Current research on music processing and syntax or semantics in language suggests that music and language share partially overlapping neural resources. Pitch also constitutes a common denominator, forming melody in music and prosody in language. Further, pitch perception is modulated by musical training. The present study investigated how music and language interact on pitch dimension and whether musical training plays a role in this interaction. For this purpose, we used melodies ending on an expected or unexpected note (melodic expectancy being estimated by a computational model) paired with prosodic utterances which were either expected (statements with falling pitch) or relatively unexpected (questions with rising pitch). Participants' (22 musicians, 20 nonmusicians) ERPs and behavioural responses in a statement/question discrimination task were recorded. Participants were faster for simultaneous expectancy violations in the melodic and linguistic stimuli. Further, musicians performed better than nonmusicians, which may be related to their increased pitch tracking ability. At the neural level, prosodic violations elicited a front-central positive ERP around 150ms after the onset of the last word/note, while musicians presented reduced P600 in response to strong incongruities (questions on low-probability notes). Critically, musicians' P800 amplitudes were proportional to their level of musical training, suggesting that expertise might shape the pitch processing of language. The beneficial aspect of expertise could be attributed to its strengthening effect of general executive functions. These findings offer novel contributions to our understanding of shared higher-order mechanisms between music and language processing on pitch dimension, and further demonstrate a potential modulation by musical expertise.
AuthorsZioga, I; Di Bernardi Luft, C; Bhattacharya, J
- College Publications