Music training for the development of speech segmentation

The latest from my friends at Neuromusic News (ed. by Fondazione Mariani).

Contributors: Luisa Lopez, Giuliano Avanzini, Maria Majno and Barbara Bernardini.

This week’s digest regarding music and speech includes much of the same of what we already know: the implications of musical exposure in children with speech perception issues grow greater by the day. This study specifically compares the use of music as opposed to the use of art in 8 year old children.

Cereb Cortex 2012 Jul 10

Music training for the development of speech segmentation

François C, Chobert J, Besson M, Schön D
Institut de neurosciences des systèmes, INSERM and Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, France

The role of music training in fostering brain plasticity and developing high cognitive skills, notably linguistic abilities, is of great interest from both a scientific and a societal perspective. Here, we report results of a longitudinal study over 2 years using both behavioral and electrophysiological measures and a test-training-retest procedure to examine the influence of music training on speech segmentation in 8-year-old children. Children were pseudo-randomly assigned to either music or painting training and were tested on their ability to extract meaningless words from a continuous flow of nonsense syllables. While no between-group differences were found before training, both behavioral and electrophysiological measures showed improved speech segmentation skills across testing sessions for the music group only. These results show that music training directly causes facilitation in speech segmentation, thereby pointing to the importance of music for speech perception and more generally for children’s language development. Finally these results have strong implications for promoting the development of music-based remediation strategies for children with language-based learning impairments.

And for our Italian friends:

Il ruolo del training musicale nel promuovere la plasticità cerebrale e lo sviluppo di capacità cognitive linguistiche è di grande interesse sia dal punto di vista scientifico sia sociale. In questo studio, gli Autori riportano i risultati di uno studio longitudinale, durato oltre due anni, effettuato usando sia misure elettrofisiologiche sia comportamentali per verificare l’influenza del training musicale sulla segmentazione del linguaggio in bambini di 8 anni. I bambini sono stati assegnati con pseudo-randomizzazione a due gruppi di studio, uno sottoposto a training musicale, l’altro a lezioni di pittura, e testati periodicamente sulla capacità di estrarre parole senza significato da un flusso continuo di sillabe di un linguaggio artificiale. Le valutazioni dimostrano che solo i bambini esposti a training musicale aumentano la capacità di segmentazione del linguaggio, suggerendo l’importanza fondamentale del training musicale per lo sviluppo linguistico. Questi risultati hanno forti implicazioni nel promuovere l’elaborazione di strategie basate sul training musicale per aiutare i bambini con disturbi di apprendimento su base linguistica.mu

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