Tag Archives: AAAS

Music & Language

For a musician, timing is everything – but it’s often not as much fun as serendipity. I emerged from the today’s post-work swim just in time to hear a piece on Radio 4’s PM on the links between music and language. This is one of the topics on the agenda of the American Association for the Advancement of Science‘s forthcoming conference.

You can hear the piece here (approx 5 mins long – scroll forward to 0:44:20) for the next seven days. There is mention (and sometimes demonstration) of:

  • how the enhanced audio/language processing skills in musicians are exactly those diminished in certain “clinical populations”
  • how the electrical activity in the brain mirrors much more exactly the patterns of music recently heard than would be possible in the case of speech – the corollary being that frequent, active exposure to music can strengthen language processing
  • how the eye contact necessary in some music therapy activities can strengthen the social skills of the most withdrawn
  • how a stroke patient, struggling to recall the content of an out-of-context lyric, seemed suddenly capable of total recall when asked to sing the same lyric
  • the differing opinions of Darwin, Spencer and Rousseau on whether music grew from language, language from music, or whether they emerged as co-dependants