Why Musicians Learn New Words Better?

Word learning is a part of human faculty and is dependent upon two processes that are a result of activity coming from the posterior superior temporal (pST) and inferior parietal (IP) brain regions toward the prefrontal cortex (dorsal stream) and the temporal pole (ventral stream). The ventral stream is responsible for forming visual and linguistic information into representations of sentence structure and its meaning. The dorsal stream is responsible for sound-to-movement forming, articulation, complex arrangement in the verbal area, and how speech is stored and retrieved from memory. In an EEG study, the connection between the IP lobe and Broca’s area was evaluated while musicians and non-musicians learned made up words presented as connected auditory streams. Musicians did better than non-musicians in a behavioral sense, which was reflected by a higher sensitivity index (d’). This may be because of the increased left-hemispheric theta coherence in the dorsal stream, while non-musicians’ right hemisphere is more active. There were no differences between the groups during the test or a controlled condition, which points to a task-specific intertwining between musical expertise, functional connectivity, and word learning.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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