Cognitive Science Colloquium: Music, Speech and Sound in the Brain


Since the time of Paul Broca, methods for looking at brain structure and brain function have become powerful tools to answer questions about cognition. In this talk, we will discuss how modern scientists use these tools, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Specifically, we will use examples of studies in music and speech, including my current PhD work on speech prosody and music. In this project, we are interested in how different auditory perceptual skills– like detecting differences in pitch or timing– map onto brain structure. We test both musicians and nonmusicians in a task with pitch and time changes, in speech and music contexts. We then use this information to study how participants’ performance on the task relates to brain structure as shown by MRI scans. This ongoing work reveals areas that are potentially involved in making judgments about auditory information.

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