Music and Language Equally Neurologically Stimulating?

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Multivariate Pattern Analysis

Music and the brain – Image by Brew Books

However, the team of scientists went further in their investigations and used a more comprehensive technique called multivariate pattern analysis (MPA) to examine the fMRI signal responses. This finer analysis showed that although the prefrontal and temporal areas were activated similarly, differences were apparent in the type of processing seen across different areas of the brain suggesting that music and language share similar neurological  resources but they are accessed and used differently for each one.

Different Attributes Force Differential Brain Processing

Levitin explains that the differential processing discoveries could be because direct comparisons cannot be made between music and language.  Unlike speech, music lacks external referents; there are brain structures that react to differences in speech intelligibility and meaning,  music does not have these features. Levitin concludes that more experimental work will need to be carried out to get to the bottom of whether these particular differences cause the processing anomalies uncovered in this investigation.

Sources:

Abrams, D. A., Levitin, D. J, et al. Decoding temporal structure in music and speech relies on shared brain resources but elicits different fine-scale spatial patterns. (2011). Cerebral Cortex. 21:1507—1518.

Lany, J.,  Saffran, J. R. Interactions between statistical and semantic information in infant language development. (2011). Developmental Science 14:5  1207–1219. Accessed February 29, 2012.

Winkler, I. and Honing, H. Newborn infants detect the beat in music. (2009). PNAS. Accessed on  February 29, 2012.

Zentner,  M., Eerola, T. Rhythmic engagement with music in infancy. (2009). PNAS. Accessed on  February 27, 2012.

Patel A. D. Language, music, syntax and the brain. (2003). Natural Neuroscience. 6:674-681. Accessed on  February 29, 2012.

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