The Importance Of Music And Language

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While music and language are both processed by the auditory cortex, language generally considered to be lateralized to the left hemisphere, and properties of music to the right. However, some features of sound are common to perception of both music and language. These common features include pitch, timbre, and hierarchical structure. In music, perception of pitch is important in identifying aspects such as melodies and harmonies in a musical piece. In non-tonal languages, variations of pitch in a speech stream play a role in prosody, while in tonal languages, pitch and pitch contour are used to differentiate phonemes. To a certain extent, the fundamental frequency (a.k.a., the pitch) of an unknown speaker can aid in identification of the …show more content…
The tone of a piece depends on multiple aspects such as meter (or rhythm), dynamics, tempo, and consonance or dissonance. Louder dynamics indicate higher energy and can suggest elements such as anger and surprise. Slower tempos are used in pieces to establish moods such as sadness, languor, or relaxation. Similarly to how changes in such changes in musical structure can alter the perceived tone of a piece, changes in prosody alter meanings in speech, as well as the intelligibility of a speech stream. For example, exaggerated intonation and slower rhythm can ease speech segmentation, as in the case of infant-directed and clear speech (Schön and François, 2011). People naturally tend to speak slower, more loudly, and enunciate their words more when speaking to a person who has trouble understanding them in their normal conversational prosody. This resulting ease in speech segmentation may especially aid in learning foreign languages, particularly when the foreign language has phonemes not normally present in one’s native …show more content…
The N400 is a component in lexical ERP studies of that indicates familiarity with a stimulus, and is characterized by a negative peak that appears in fronto-central electrode sites 400-800 ms after stimulus presentation; high frequency words elicit peaks of lower amplitude than words of low frequency, and may be indicative of ease of information retrieval from long-term memory. Pseudo-words elicit a negative peak at around 600 ms after presentation (Schön and François, 2011). A comparable musical test by Schön and François (2011) showed that unfamiliar music items elicit a negative peak of similar shape and size to the N400 at around 900 ms. Like the N400, this peak appears in fronto-central sites. The authors interpreted these results as supporting evidence that language and music have shared processing mechanisms; while the latency for the negative component could indicate a different processing mechanism, Schön and François proposed that this difference was instead due to the higher difficulty in accessing or retrieving the musical items from memory, similar to the slightly later appearance of pseudo-words. Future studies should investigate the change in amplitude for the negative component as musical items

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