Music and speech are very cognitively demanding auditory phenomena generally attributed to cortical rather than subcortical circuitry. We examined brainstem encoding of linguistic pitch and found that musicians show more robust and faithful encoding compared with nonmusicians. These results not only implicate a common subcortical manifestation for two presumed cortical functions, but also a possible reciprocity of corticofugal speech and music tuning, providing neurophysiological explanations for musicians' higher language-learning ability.
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The authors thank J. Song, B. Williams, J. Alexander, A. Bradlow, T. Nicol, and T. Perrachione for their assistance in this research. This work is supported by Northwestern University and the US National Institutes of Health grant R03HD051827 and R21DC007468 to P.W. and R01DC001510 to N.K, and National Science Foundation grant BCS-0544846 to N.K.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Simultaneous EEG and MEG recordings reveal vocal pitch elicited cortical gamma oscillations in young and older adults
Modulation of phase-locked neural responses to speech during different arousal states is age-dependent
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