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Expertise vs. inter-individual differences: New evidence on the perception of syntax and rhythm in language and music

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Harding,  Eleanor
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Sammler,  Daniela
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Kotz,  Sonja
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Harding, E., Sammler, D., & Kotz, S. (2012). Expertise vs. inter-individual differences: New evidence on the perception of syntax and rhythm in language and music. Poster presented at 12th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, Thessaloniki, Greece.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-0D4A-8
Abstract
Language and music perception overlap in the realms of syntax (Koelsch, Gunter, Wittfoth, & Sammler, 2005) and rhythm (Vuust, Roepstorff, Wallentin, Mouridsen, & Ostergaard, 2006; Schmidt-Kassow & Kotz, 2008). Considering that native-speaker language proficiency is subject to inter-individual variability (Pakulak and Neville, 2010) and that musical aptitude is not strictly limited to musical experts (Bigand & Poulin-Charronat, 2006; Koelsch, Gunter, & Friederici, 2000), this ongoing study collects individual working memory and rhythm performance data among musicians and non-musicians and correlates natural aptitude with language- and music- syntax perception as a function of rhythm. In discrete sessions, participants were asked to detect syntactic differences in sentences and melodies, making an uninformed choice as to whether paired items were 'same' or 'different.' The sentence- and melody discriminate pairs were either spoken/played in a regular or irregular rhythm. When comparing musicians to non-musicians, musicians have a globally improved performance in the melody discrimination, however working memory capacity and rhythm aptitude correlate with task performance across all participants. Results indicate that variance in the data may be linked to individual 'affinity' for regular-rhythm entrainment, irrespective of musical expertise.