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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

February 2011, Vol. 23, No. 2, Pages 294-305
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.2010.21413)
© 2010 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Musicians and the Metric Structure of Words
Article PDF (277.76 KB)
Abstract

The present study aimed to examine the influence of musical expertise on the metric and semantic aspects of speech processing. In two attentional conditions (metric and semantic tasks), musicians listened to short sentences ending in trisyllabic words that were semantically and/or metrically congruous or incongruous. Both ERPs and behavioral data were analyzed and the results were compared to previous nonmusicians' data. Regarding the processing of meter, results showed that musical expertise influenced the automatic detection of the syllable temporal structure (P200 effect), the integration of metric structure and its influence on word comprehension (N400 effect), as well as the reanalysis of metric violations (P600 and late positivities effects). By contrast, results showed that musical expertise did not influence the semantic level of processing. These results are discussed in terms of transfer of training effects from music to speech processing.