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Enhanced perception of various linguistic features by musicians: A cross-linguistic study


Sadakata,  Makiko
Language Comprehension Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;
Mechanisms and Representations in Comprehending Speech, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Sadakata, M., & Sekiyama, K. (2011). Enhanced perception of various linguistic features by musicians: A cross-linguistic study. Acta Psychologica, 138, 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2011.03.007.

Two cross-linguistic experiments comparing musicians and non-musicians were performed in order to examine whether musicians have enhanced perception of specific acoustical features of speech in a second language (L2). These discrimination and identification experiments examined the perception of various speech features; namely, the timing and quality of Japanese consonants, and the quality of Dutch vowels. We found that musical experience was more strongly associated with discrimination performance rather than identification performance. The enhanced perception was observed not only with respect to L2, but also L1. It was most pronounced when tested with Japanese consonant timing. These findings suggest the following: 1) musicians exhibit enhanced early acoustical analysis of speech, 2) musical training does not equally enhance the perception of all acoustic features automatically, and 3) musicians may enjoy an advantage in the perception of acoustical features that are important in both language and music, such as pitch and timing. Research Highlights We compared the perception of L1 and L2 speech by musicians and non-musicians. Discrimination and identification experiments examined perception of consonant timing, quality of Japanese consonants and of Dutch vowels. We compared results for Japanese native musicians and non-musicians as well as, Dutch native musicians and non-musicians. Musicians demonstrated enhanced perception for both L1 and L2. Most pronounced effect was found for Japanese consonant timing.