Evidence for Shared Cognitive Processing of Pitch in Music and Language
Author(s)Fedorenko, Evelina G.; Vinke, Louis; Dilley, Laura C.; Perrachione, Tyler; Gibson, Edward A.
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Language and music epitomize the complex representational and computational capacities of the human mind. Strikingly similar in their structural and expressive features, a longstanding question is whether the perceptual and cognitive mechanisms underlying these abilities are shared or distinct – either from each other or from other mental processes. One prominent feature shared between language and music is signal encoding using pitch, conveying pragmatics and semantics in language and melody in music. We investigated how pitch processing is shared between language and music by measuring consistency in individual differences in pitch perception across language, music, and three control conditions intended to assess basic sensory and domain-general cognitive processes. Individuals’ pitch perception abilities in language and music were most strongly related, even after accounting for performance in all control conditions. These results provide behavioral evidence, based on patterns of individual differences, that is consistent with the hypothesis that cognitive mechanisms for pitch processing may be shared between language and music.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences; McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT
Public Library of Science
Perrachione, Tyler K., Evelina G. Fedorenko, Louis Vinke, Edward Gibson, and Laura C. Dilley. “Evidence for Shared Cognitive Processing of Pitch in Music and Language.” Edited by Luis M Martinez. PLoS ONE 8, no. 8 (August 15, 2013): e73372.
Final published version