Monday, Feb. 3rd, 3pm, KL232

Music or language? Pattern-learning by experienced and inexperienced listeners

Erin Hannon
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Music and language share many acoustic properties, but shared features may have distinct functions in each domain. For example, melody is found in both music and language but it plays a different role in music than it does in language. As young listeners acquire culture- and language-specific knowledge of music and language, they also presumably must learn which auditory features distinguish music and language and which are most relevant in each context. Melody tends to be ignored when non-musician adults attempt to infer rule-like patterns from sequences of sung syllables containing conflicting syllable and melodic patterns. The tendency to ignore melody may develop, a possibility that is explored by examining rule-learning among infants, adult musicians, and adult users of a tonal language. Part of acquiring musical and linguistic knowledge may include learning to differentially weight acoustic features depending on the musical or linguistic context.