Musical Training Changes the Brain and Enhances Speech Perception

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Neuroscience, Music, Language, Speech, Neural networks, Neuroplasticity


Previous research has found that musicians have enhanced selective attention and increased sensitivity to acoustic features of speech that is facilitated by musical training and supported, in part, by right hemisphere homologues of established speech processing regions of the brain (Jantzen et al., 2014; Jantzen and Scheurich, 2014). In the current study, we sought to provide evidence that musical training would enhance the processing of acoustic information for speech sounds. We hypothesized that non-musicians would have improved discrimination and enhanced sensitivity of acoustic features for speech stimuli differing in voice onset time. More specifically, we hypothesized that there would be increased recruitment of right hemisphere homologues for speech after completion of a musical training program. Musical training effects and organization of acoustic features were reflected in the EEG as observed by location and amplitude of the ERP’s. Results show neural response during the P50/N1/P2 to the acoustic features was greater following musical training. In addition, behavioral results indicate that after musical training enhanced sensitivity to and improved discrimination of small differences in VOT. Moreover, musical training affected both formation of phonemic categories and internal category structure.

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