Project

Back to overview

Musikexpertise und Sprachfunktionen

English title Music expertise and speech functions
Applicant Jäncke Lutz
Number 121927
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Lehrstuhl für Neuropsychologie Psychologisches Institut Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Start/End 01.02.2009 - 31.01.2012
Approved amount 611'200.00
Show all

All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Psychology

Keywords (4)

music perception; music expertise; speechand language perception; electroencephalography

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
The basic idea behind the experiments of this project is that if musicians are better in perceiving tonal information they should also be better in the perception of vowels and/or prosodic cues, because vowels and prosodic cues are distinguished on the basis of frequency information (overtone composition, formant transitions, pitch etc.). Thus, vowel and tone perception as well as perception of prosodic cues all rely on the analysis of similar (if not the same) cues (frequency information). A further question relates to the perception of voice onset times, which are critical phonetic cues with which to differentiate phonemes. If the auditory system in musicians is improved and optimized, this should also have some influence on the perception and processing of voice onset times. We hypothesize that the processing of voice onset times might be improved and optimized in musicians. Absolute pitch (AP) ability is also a topic of this research project since several papers have emphasized the role of the left perisylvian brain region as a core region for understanding this extraordinary ability. Thus, we are interested to to study the anatomy in this region in ore detail in AP musicians and we will will also examine whether AP musicians use verbal strategies to process tone information.In this project we plan to investigate the function and anatomy of the auditory system and adjacent cortical regions in musicians possessing relative (RP) and absolute pitch (AP). For this, we will use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and auditory event related potentials (AEP). The functional methods will be used to measure neural responses during perception of various phonetic cues (spectral and temporal). These methods are used to examining whether musicians show specific alterations in the processing of these phonetic cues. We are also interested in looking for macrostructural differences of the auditory system of professional musicians compared to non-musicians. We will use DTI analysis and the analysis of cortical thickness for the examination of anatomical differences between musicians (including absolute pitch and non-absolute pitch musicians) and non-musicians.This project will be important for the understanding of the functional plasticity of the human auditory system. It will particularly help to examine whether there is indeed some kind of mutual interdependency between musical and speech functions.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
136249 Resting states of the brain and state dependent information processing in health and disease 01.01.2012 Sinergia
100109 Short-term and long-term plasticity in the human auditory system 01.08.2003 Project funding (Div. I-III)
138668 Musikexpertise und Sprachfunktionen: Ein neurowissenschaftlicher Zugang 01.02.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Background: There is growing evidence that musical expertise has profound influence on the anatomical and functional organization of the human brain. In this context, the brain of musicians is regarded as a good model for neuroplasticity. More recently, it has been hypothesized that musical expertise has also some influence on neural networks involved in speech and language processing. Although first studies have substantiated this hypothesis, there is currently no research demonstrating whether musical expertise influences fundamental aspects of speech perception. There is therefore a great need to examine whether speech and language overlap and/or neural networks specialized for music and language share similar networks.Working hypothesis: The basic idea behind these experiments is that if musicians are better in perceiving tonal information they should also be better in the perception of vowels and/or prosodic cues, because vowels and prosodic cues are distinguished on the basis of frequency information (overtone composition, formant transitions, pitch etc.). Thus, vowel and tone perception as well as perception of prosodic cues all rely on the analysis of similar (if not the same) cues (frequency information). If the auditory system of subjects with musical expertise is more efficient in processing frequency information there must be activation differences in this system in response to phonetic stimuli containing frequency information. A further question relates to the perception of voice onset times, which are critical phonetic cues with which to differentiate phonemes. If the auditory system in musicians is improved and optimized, this should also have some influence on the perception and processing of voice onset times. We hypothesize that the processing of voice onset times might be improved and optimized in musicians. Absolute pitch (AP) ability is also a topic of this research project since several papers have emphasized the role of the left perisylvian brain region as a core region for understanding this extraordinary ability. Thus, we are interested to to study the anatomy in this region in ore detail in AP musicians and we will will also examine whether AP musicians use verbal strategies to process tone information.Specific aims: In this project we plan to investigate the function and anatomy of the auditory system and adjacent cortical regions in musicians possessing relative (RP) and absolute pitch (AP). For this, we will use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and auditory event related potentials (AEP). The functional methods will be used to measure neural responses during perception of various phonetic cues (spectral and temporal). These methods are used to examining whether musicians show specific alterations in the processing of these phonetic cues. We are also interested in looking for macrostructural differences of the auditory system of professional musicians compared to non-musicians. We will use DTI analysis and the analysis of cortical thickness for the examination of anatomical differences between musicians and non-musicians.Specific aims and experimental designs: We are interested in studying the neural responses in musicians and non-musicians to phonetic cues containing spectral information. We will therefore use a newly designed concurrent vowel task that places greater processing demands on vowel perception. Furthermore, we will use well-established tasks to stimulate basic phonetic processing in perisylvian brain. Finaly, we are also interested in investigating the specific anatomical underpinnings of the perisylvian brain areas in AP and RP musicians in contrast to non-musicians. First findings support the hypothesis that the left-sided perisylvian brain region is differently constructed in AP musicians. This neuroanatomical constraint might be the reason for the specific music and speech processing in AP musicians. In this context we are also interested to examine possible verbal strategies in AP musicians.Expected value of the proposed project: This project will be important for the understanding of the functional plasticity of the human auditory system. It will particularly help to examine whether there is indeed some kind of mutual interdependency between musical and speech functions.
-