Toward a More Conclusive Understanding of the Relationship between Musical Training and Reading
- McNeel G. Jantzen
- Front. Psychol.
There is increasing evidence that humans and other nonhuman mammals are sensitive to the statistical structure of auditory input. Indeed, neural sensitivity to statistical regularities seems to be a fundamental biological property underlying auditory learning. In the case of speech, statistical regularities play a crucial role in the acquisition of several linguistic features, from phonotactic to more complex rules such as morphosyntactic rules. Interestingly, a similar sensitivity has been shown with non-speech streams: sequences of sounds changing in frequency or timbre can be segmented on the sole basis of conditional probabilities between adjacent sounds. We recently ran a set of cross-sectional and longitudinal experiments showing that merging music and speech information in song facilitates stream segmentation and, further, that musical practice enhances sensitivity to statistical regularities in speech at both neural and behavioral levels. Based on recent findings showing the involvement of a fronto-temporal network in speech segmentation, we defend the idea that enhanced auditory learning observed in musicians originates via at least three distinct pathways: enhanced low-level auditory processing, enhanced phono-articulatory mapping via the left Inferior Frontal Gyrus and Pre-Motor cortex and increased functional connectivity within the audio-motor network. Finally, we discuss how these data predict a beneficial use of music for optimizing speech acquisition in both normal and impaired populations.