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Music and language expertise influence the categorization of speech and musical sounds: behavioral and electrophysiological measurements


Elmer, Stefan; Klein, Carina; Kühnis, Jürg; Liem, Franziskus; Meyer, Martin; Jäncke, Lutz (2014). Music and language expertise influence the categorization of speech and musical sounds: behavioral and electrophysiological measurements. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(10):2356-2369.

Abstract

In this study, we used high-density EEG to evaluate whether speech and music expertise has an influence on the categorization of expertise-related and unrelated sounds. With this purpose in mind, we compared the categorization of speech, music, and neutral sounds between professional musicians, simultaneous interpreters (SIs), and controls in response to morphed speech-noise, music-noise, and speech-music continua. Our hypothesis was that music and language expertise will strengthen the memory representations of prototypical sounds, which act as a perceptual magnet for morphed variants. This means that the prototype would "attract" variants. This so-called magnet effect should be manifested by an increased assignment of morphed items to the trained category by a reduced maximal slope of the psychometric function as well as by differential event-related brain responses reflecting memory comparison processes (i.e., N400 and P600 responses). As a main result, we provide first evidence for a domain-specific behavioral bias of musicians and SIs toward the trained categories, namely music and speech. In addition, SIs showed a bias toward musical items, indicating that interpreting training has a generic influence on the cognitive representation of spectrotemporal signals with similar acoustic properties to speech sounds. Notably, EEG measurements revealed clear distinct N400 and P600 responses to both prototypical and ambiguous items between the three groups at anterior, central, and posterior scalp sites. These differential N400 and P600 responses represent synchronous activity occurring across widely distributed brain networks and indicate a dynamical recruitment of memory processes that vary as a function of training and expertise.

Abstract

In this study, we used high-density EEG to evaluate whether speech and music expertise has an influence on the categorization of expertise-related and unrelated sounds. With this purpose in mind, we compared the categorization of speech, music, and neutral sounds between professional musicians, simultaneous interpreters (SIs), and controls in response to morphed speech-noise, music-noise, and speech-music continua. Our hypothesis was that music and language expertise will strengthen the memory representations of prototypical sounds, which act as a perceptual magnet for morphed variants. This means that the prototype would "attract" variants. This so-called magnet effect should be manifested by an increased assignment of morphed items to the trained category by a reduced maximal slope of the psychometric function as well as by differential event-related brain responses reflecting memory comparison processes (i.e., N400 and P600 responses). As a main result, we provide first evidence for a domain-specific behavioral bias of musicians and SIs toward the trained categories, namely music and speech. In addition, SIs showed a bias toward musical items, indicating that interpreting training has a generic influence on the cognitive representation of spectrotemporal signals with similar acoustic properties to speech sounds. Notably, EEG measurements revealed clear distinct N400 and P600 responses to both prototypical and ambiguous items between the three groups at anterior, central, and posterior scalp sites. These differential N400 and P600 responses represent synchronous activity occurring across widely distributed brain networks and indicate a dynamical recruitment of memory processes that vary as a function of training and expertise.

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14 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:DoktoratPSYCH
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:09 Jul 2014 14:36
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:52
Publisher:MIT Press
ISSN:0898-929X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_00632
PubMed ID:24702451

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