The relationship between music and language

Traditionally, music and language have been treated as different psychological faculties. This duality is reflected in older theories about the lateralization of speech and music in that speech functions were thought to be localized in the left and music functions in the right hemisphere of the brain. For example, the landmark paper of Bever and Chiarello (1974) emphasized the different roles of both hemispheres in processing music and language information, with the left hemisphere considered more specialized for propositional, analytic, and serial processing and the right-hemisphere more specialized for oppositional, holistic, and synthetic relations. This view has been challenged in recent years mainly because of the advent of modern brain imaging techniques and the improvement in neurophysiological measures to investigate brain functions. Using these innovative approaches, an entirely new view on the neural and psychological underpinnings of music and speech has evolved. The findings of these more recent studies show that music and speech functions have many aspects in common and that several neural modules are similarly involved in speech and music (Tallal and Gaab, 2006). There is also emerging evidence that speech functions can benefit from music functions and vice versa. This field of research has accumulated a lot of new information and it is, therefore, timely to bring together the work of those researchers who have been most visible, productive, and inspiring in this field.

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Read also: Music, Language, and the Brain

About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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