Blog Archives

Effect of musical experience on verbal memory in Williams syndrome: Evidence from a novel word learning task

Williams syndrome (WS) is a neurogenetic developmental disorder characterized by an increased affinity for music, deficits in verbal memory, and atypical brain development. Music has been shown to improve verbal memory in typical individuals as well as those with learning difficulties, but no studies have examined this relationship in WS. The aim of our two studies was to examine whether music can enhance verbal memory in individuals with WS. In Study 1, we presented a memory task of eight spoken or sung sentences that described an animal and identified its group name to 38 individuals with WS. Study 2, involving another group of individuals with WS (n = 38), included six spoken or sung sentences that identified an animal group name. In both studies, those who had participated in formal music lessons scored significantly better on the verbal memory task when the sentences were sung than when they were spoken. Those who had not taken formal lessons showed no such benefit. We also found that increased enjoyment of music and heightened emotional reactions to music did not impact performance on the memory task. These compelling findings provide the first evidence that musical experience may enhance verbal memory in individuals with WS and shed more light on the complex relationship between aspects of cognition and altered neurodevelopment in this unique disorder.

from Neuropsychologia

Hearing speech in music

The masking effect of a piano composition, played at different speeds and in different octaves, on speech-perception thresholds was investigated in 15 normal-hearing and 14 moderately-hearing-impaired subjects. Running speech (just follow conversation, JFC) testing and use of hearing aids increased the everyday validity of the findings. A comparison was made with standard audiometric noises [International Collegium of Rehabilitative Audiology (ICRA) noise and speech spectrum-filtered noise (SPN)]. All masking sounds, music or noise, were presented at the same equivalent sound level (50 dBA). The results showed a significant effect of piano performance speed and octave (P<.01). Low octave and fast tempo had the largest effect; and high octave and slow tempo, the smallest. Music had a lower masking effect than did ICRA noise with two or six speakers at normal vocal effort (P<.01) and SPN (P<.05). Subjects with hearing loss had higher masked thresholds than the normal-hearing subjects (P<.01), but there were smaller differences between masking conditions (P<.01). It is pointed out that music offers an interesting opportunity for studying masking under realistic conditions, where spectral and temporal features can be varied independently. The results have implications for composing music with vocal parts, designing acoustic environments and creating a balance between speech perception and privacy in social settings.

from Noise & Health

Voice handicap in singing: analysis of the Modern Singing Handicap Index – MSHI questionnaire

CONCLUSION: The questionnaire proved to be sensitive for modern singers with vocal complaints. Choir singers with vocal complaints had higher self-reported handicap in comparison to choir singers without vocal complaints and non-singers. Aspects of organic nature were highlighted with larger deviations.

from Revista de Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

Shadows of music–language interaction on low frequency brain oscillatory patterns

Electrophysiological studies investigating similarities between music and language perception have relied exclusively on the signal averaging technique, which does not adequately represent oscillatory aspects of electrical brain activity that are relevant for higher cognition. The current study investigated the patterns of brain oscillations during simultaneous processing of music and language using visually presented sentences and auditorily presented chord sequences. Music-syntactically regular or irregular chord functions were presented in sync with syntactically or semantically correct or incorrect words. Irregular chord functions (presented simultaneously with a syntactically correct word) produced an early (150–250 ms) spectral power decrease over anterior frontal regions in the theta band (5–7 Hz) and a late (350–700 ms) power increase in both the delta and the theta band (2–7 Hz) over parietal regions. Syntactically incorrect words (presented simultaneously with a regular chord) elicited a similar late power increase in delta–theta band over parietal sites, but no early effect. Interestingly, the late effect was significantly diminished when the language-syntactic and music-syntactic irregularities occurred at the same time. Further, the presence of a semantic violation occurring simultaneously with regular chords produced a significant increase in later delta–theta power at posterior regions; this effect was marginally decreased when the identical semantic violation occurred simultaneously with a music syntactical violation. Altogether, these results show that low frequency oscillatory networks get activated during the syntactic processing of both music and language, and further, these networks may possibly be shared.

from Brain and Language

Temporal and Spectral Cues for Musical Timbre Perception in Electric Hearing

Conclusions: Temporal envelope was a dominant cue for timbre perception in CI listeners. Compared to NH listeners, CI listeners showed reduced reliance on both spectral envelope and spectral fine structure cues for timbre perception.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Music, rhythm, rise time perception and developmental dyslexia: Perception of musical meter predicts reading and phonology

Conclusions
The accurate perception of metrical structure may be critical for phonological development and consequently for the development of literacy. Difficulties in metrical processing are associated with basic auditory rise time processing difficulties, suggesting a primary sensory impairment in developmental dyslexia in tracking the lower-frequency modulations in the speech envelope.

from Cortex

Are left fronto-temporal brain areas a prerequisite for normal music-syntactic processing?

An increasing number of neuroimaging studies in music cognition research suggest that “language areas” are involved in the processing of musical syntax, but none of these studies clarified whether these areas are a prerequisite for normal syntax processing in music. The present electrophysiological experiment tested whether patients with lesions in Broca’s area (N=6) or in the left anterior temporal lobe (N=7) exhibit deficits in the processing of structure in music compared to matched healthy controls (N=13). A chord sequence paradigm was applied, and the amplitude and scalp topography of the Early Right Anterior Negativity (ERAN) was examined, an electrophysiological marker of musical syntax processing that correlates with activity in Broca’s area and its right hemisphere homotope. Left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) (but not anterior superior temporal gyrus – aSTG) patients with lesions older than 4 years showed an ERAN with abnormal scalp distribution, and subtle behavioural deficits in detecting music-syntactic irregularities. In one IFG patient tested 7 months post-stroke, the ERAN was extinguished and the behavioural performance remained at chance level. These combined results suggest that the left IFG, known to be crucial for syntax processing in language, plays also a functional role in the processing of musical syntax. Hence, the present findings are consistent with the notion that Broca’s area supports the processing of syntax in a rather domain-general way.

from Cortex

Are left fronto-temporal brain areas a prerequisite for normal music-syntactic processing?

An increasing number of neuroimaging studies in music cognition research suggest that “language areas” are involved in the processing of musical syntax, but none of these studies clarified whether these areas are a prerequisite for normal syntax processing in music. The present electrophysiological experiment tested whether patients with lesions in Broca’s area (N=6) or in the left anterior temporal lobe (N=7) exhibit deficits in the processing of structure in music compared to matched healthy controls (N=13). A chord sequence paradigm was applied, and the amplitude and scalp topography of the Early Right Anterior Negativity (ERAN) was examined, an electrophysiological marker of musical syntax processing that correlates with activity in Broca’s area and its right hemisphere homotope. Left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) (but not anterior superior temporal gyrus – aSTG) patients with lesions older than 4 years showed an ERAN with abnormal scalp distribution, and subtle behavioural deficits in detecting music-syntactic irregularities. In one IFG patient tested 7 months post-stroke, the ERAN was extinguished and the behavioural performance remained at chance level. These combined results suggest that the left IFG, known to be crucial for syntax processing in language, plays also a functional role in the processing of musical syntax. Hence, the present findings are consistent with the notion that Broca’s area supports the processing of syntax in a rather domain-general way.

from Cortex

Music, rhythm, rise time perception and developmental dyslexia: Perception of musical meter predicts reading and phonology

Rhythm organises musical events into patterns and forms, and rhythm perception in music is usually studied by using metrical tasks. Metrical structure also plays an organisational function in the phonology of language, via speech prosody, and there is evidence for rhythmic perceptual difficulties in developmental dyslexia. Here we investigate the hypothesis that the accurate perception of musical metrical structure is related to basic auditory perception of rise time, and also to phonological and literacy development in children.

from Cortex

Are left fronto-temporal brain areas a prerequisite for normal music-syntactic processing?

An increasing number of neuroimaging studies in music cognition research suggest that “language areas” are involved in the processing of musical syntax, but none of these studies clarified whether these areas are a prerequisite for normal syntax processing in music. The present electrophysiological experiment tested whether patients with lesions in Broca’s area (N=6) or in the left anterior temporal lobe (N=7) exhibit deficits in the processing of structure in music compared to matched healthy controls (N=13). A chord sequence paradigm was applied, and the amplitude and scalp topography of the Early Right Anterior Negativity (ERAN) was examined, an electrophysiological marker of musical syntax processing that correlates with activity in Broca’s area and its right hemisphere homotope. Left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) (but not anterior superior temporal gyrus – aSTG) patients with lesions older than 4 years showed an ERAN with abnormal scalp distribution, and subtle behavioural deficits in detecting music-syntactic irregularities. In one IFG patient tested 7 months post-stroke, the ERAN was extinguished and the behavioural performance remained at chance level. These combined results suggest that the left IFG, known to be crucial for syntax processing in language, plays also a functional role in the processing of musical syntax. Hence, the present findings are consistent with the notion that Broca’s area supports the processing of syntax in a rather domain-general way.

from Cortex

The professional voice

The human voice is not only the key to human communication but also serves as the primary musical instrument. Many professions rely on the voice, but the most noticeable and visible are singers. Care of the performing voice requires a thorough understanding of the interaction between the anatomy and physiology of voice production, along with an awareness of the interrelationships between vocalisation, acoustic science and non-vocal components of performance. This review gives an overview of the care and prevention of professional voice disorders by describing the unique and integrated anatomy and physiology of singing, the roles of development and training, and the importance of the voice care team.

from the Journal of Laryngology and Otology

Emotion Perception in Music in High-Functioning Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) succeed at a range of musical tasks. The ability to recognize musical emotion as belonging to one of four categories (happy, sad, scared or peaceful) was assessed in high-functioning adolescents with ASD (N = 26) and adolescents with typical development (TD, N = 26) with comparable performance IQ, auditory working memory, and musical training and experience. When verbal IQ was controlled for, there was no significant effect of diagnostic group. Adolescents with ASD rated the intensity of the emotions similarly to adolescents with TD and reported greater confidence in their responses when they had correctly (vs. incorrectly) recognized the emotions. These findings are reviewed within the context of the amygdala theory of autism.

from the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Vocal and cervicoscapular evaluation in military wind instrumentalists

CONCLUSION: The military wind instrumentalists presented vocal and cervicoscapular alterations, and require actions to promote vocal and postural health.

from Revista de Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

Finding your voice: A singing lesson from functional imaging

Vocal singing (singing with lyrics) shares features common to music and language but it is not clear to what extent they use the same brain systems, particularly at the higher cortical level, and how this varies with expertise. Twenty-six participants of varying singing ability performed two functional imaging tasks. The first examined covert generative language using orthographic lexical retrieval while the second required covert vocal singing of a well-known song. The neural networks subserving covert vocal singing and language were found to be proximally located, and their extent of cortical overlap varied with singing expertise. Nonexpert singers showed greater engagement of their language network during vocal singing, likely accounting for their less tuneful performance. In contrast, expert singers showed a more unilateral pattern of activation associated with reduced engagement of the right frontal lobe. The findings indicate that singing expertise promotes independence from the language network with decoupling producing more tuneful performance. This means that the age-old singing practice of ‘finding your singing voice’ may be neurologically mediated by changing how strongly singing is coupled to the language system. Hum Brain Mapp, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

from Human Brain Mapping

Classical singing handicap index (CSHI) in erudite singers*

CONCLUSION: singers with vocal complaints and/or symptoms had higher handicap index in singing, expressed in subscales Impairment and Disability, without relationship with vocal classification.

from Pró-Fono Revista de Atualização Científica