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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

December 2011, Vol. 23, No. 12, Pages 3874-3887
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00088)
© 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Enhanced Passive and Active Processing of Syllables in Musician Children
Article PDF (357.44 KB)

The aim of this study was to examine the influence of musical expertise in 9-year-old children on passive (as reflected by MMN) and active (as reflected by discrimination accuracy) processing of speech sounds. Musician and nonmusician children were presented with a sequence of syllables that included standards and deviants in vowel frequency, vowel duration, and VOT. Both the passive and the active processing of duration and VOT deviants were enhanced in musician compared with nonmusician children. Moreover, although no effect was found on the passive processing of frequency, active frequency discrimination was enhanced in musician children. These findings are discussed in terms of common processing of acoustic features in music and speech and of positive transfer of training from music to the more abstract phonological representations of speech units (syllables).