Benefits of Early Childhood Music Education

Effects of music on language processing have been reported separately for syntax and for semantics. Previous studies have shown that regular musical rhythms can facilitate syntax processing and that semantic features of musical excerpts can influence semantic processing of words. It remains unclear whether musical parameters, such as rhythm and sound texture, may specifically influence different components of linguistic processing. In the current study, two types of musical sequences (one focusing on rhythm and the other focusing on sound texture) were presented to children who were requested to perform a syntax or a semantic task thereafter. The results revealed that rhythmic and textural musical sequences differently influence syntax and semantic processing. For grammaticality judgments, children’s performance was better after regular rhythmic sequences than after textural sound sequences. In the semantic evocation task, children produced more numerous and more various concepts after textural sound sequences than after regular rhythmic sequences. These results suggest that rhythm boosts perceptual and cognitive sequencing required in syntax processing, whereas texture promote verbalization and concept activation in verbal production. The findings have implications for the interpretation of musical priming effects and are discussed in the frameworks of dynamic attending and conceptual processing.