Preadolescent Musical Training Influences Spatial Listening and Temporal Processing

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When compared to their non-musician peers, adult musicians demonstrate enhanced speech-in-noise perception (Parberry-Clark et al, 2013), verbal memory (Chan et al, 1998), phonological skills (Deg & Schwarzer, 2011), and reading (Tierney & Kraus, 2013). Recent evidence from auditory brainstem responses suggests that early musical training primes neural plasticity that facilitates listening in degraded environments (Strait et al., 2012). Our study examined the hypothesis that neural enhancements, subsequent to preadolescent musical training, improves binaural speech processing and temporal processing that are known to contribute significantly to speech understanding in complex listening environments (Hirsh, 1950; Snell & Frisina, 2000). We tested middle-school aged (10 - 14 years) children with and without musical training based on years of experience (< 6 months = non-musician; > 1 year = musician) and musical aptitude (Intermediate Measures of Music Audiation; rhythm subtest) on tests of spatial listening (Listening in Spatialized Noise-Sentences Test, Dillon, 2007) and auditory temporal processing (Adaptive Test of Temporal Resolution, Lister et al., 2011). We also measured working memory and visual processing efficiency (picture pattern memory and processing speed; NIH Tool Box) to understand the potential influence of multimodality higher-order cognitive skills over modality-specific enhancements in auditory perceptual processing secondary to musical training.


Scottsdale, AZ

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