[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fundamental changes in brain structure and function during adolescence are well-characterized, but the extent to which experience modulates adolescent neurodevelopment is not. Musical experience provides an ideal case for examining this question because the influence of music training begun early in life is well-known. We investigated the effects of in-school music training, previously shown to enhance auditory skills, versus another in-school training program that did not focus on development of auditory skills (active control). We tested adolescents on neural responses to sound and language skills before they entered high school (pretraining) and again 3 y later. Here, we show that in-school music training begun in high school prolongs the stability of subcortical sound processing and accelerates maturation of cortical auditory responses. Although phonological processing improved in both the music training and active control groups, the enhancement was greater in adolescents who underwent music training. Thus, music training initiated as late as adolescence can enhance neural processing of sound and confer benefits for language skills. These results establish the potential for experience-driven brain plasticity during adolescence and demonstrate that in-school programs can engender these changes.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2015; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1505114112 · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Learning to read is a fundamental developmental milestone, and achieving reading competency has lifelong consequences. Although literacy development proceeds smoothly for many children, a subset struggle with this learning process, creating a need to identify reliable biomarkers of a child's future literacy that could facilitate early diagnosis and access to crucial early interventions. Neural markers of reading skills have been identified in school-aged children and adults; many pertain to the precision of information processing in noise, but it is unknown whether these markers are present in pre-reading children. Here, in a series of experiments in 112 children (ages 3-14 y), we show brain-behavior relationships between the integrity of the neural coding of speech in noise and phonology. We harness these findings into a predictive model of preliteracy, revealing that a 30-min neurophysiological assessment predicts performance on multiple pre-reading tests and, one year later, predicts preschoolers' performance across multiple domains of emergent literacy. This same neural coding model predicts literacy and diagnosis of a learning disability in school-aged children. These findings offer new insight into the biological constraints on preliteracy during early childhood, suggesting that neural processing of consonants in noise is fundamental for language and reading development. Pragmatically, these findings open doors to early identification of children at risk for language learning problems; this early identification may in turn facilitate access to early interventions that could prevent a life spent struggling to read.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhythmic entrainment, or beat synchronization, provides an opportunity to understand how multiple systems operate together to integrate sensory-motor information. Also, synchronization is an essential component of musical performance that may be enhanced through musical training. Investigations of rhythmic entrainment have revealed a developmental trajectory across the lifespan, showing synchronization improves with age and musical experience. Here, we explore the development and maintenance of synchronization in childhood through older adulthood in a large cohort of participants (N = 145), and also ask how it may be altered by musical experience. We employed a uniform assessment of beat synchronization for all participants and compared performance developmentally and between individuals with and without musical experience. We show that the ability to consistently tap along to a beat improves with age into adulthood, yet in older adulthood tapping performance becomes more variable. Also, from childhood into young adulthood, individuals are able to tap increasingly close to the beat (i.e., asynchronies decline with age), however, this trend reverses from younger into older adulthood. There is a positive association between proportion of life spent playing music and tapping performance, which suggests a link between musical experience and auditory-motor integration. These results are broadly consistent with previous investigations into the development of beat synchronization across the lifespan, and thus complement existing studies and present new insights offered by a different, large cross-sectional sample.
PLoS ONE 06/2015; 10(6):e0128839. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0128839 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies have evaluated representation of the fundamental frequency (F0) in the frequency following response (FFR) of infants, but the development of other aspects of the FFR, such as timing and harmonics, has not yet been examined. Here, FFRs were recorded to a speech syllable in 28 infants, ages three to ten months. The F0 amplitude of the response was variable among individuals but was strongly represented in some infants as young as three months of age. The harmonics, however, showed a systematic increase in amplitude with age. In the time domain, onset, offset, and inter-peak latencies decreased with age. These results are consistent with neurophysiological studies indicating that (1) phase locking to lower frequency sounds emerges earlier in life than phase locking to higher frequency sounds and (2) myelination continues to increase in the first year of life. Early representation of low frequencies may reflect greater exposure to low frequency stimulation in utero. The improvement in temporal precision likely parallels an increase in the efficiency of neural transmission accompanied by exposure to speech during the first year of life.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 06/2015; 137(6):3346. DOI:10.1121/1.4921032 · 1.56 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Congenital amusia is a neurogenetic condition, characterized by a deficit in music perception and production, not explained by hearing loss, brain damage or lack of exposure to music. Despite inferior musical performance, amusics exhibit normal auditory cortical responses, with abnormal neural correlates suggested to lie beyond auditory cortices. Here we show, using auditory brainstem responses to complex sounds in humans, that fine-grained automatic processing of sounds is impoverished in amusia. Compared to matched non-musician controls, spectral amplitude was decreased in amusics for higher harmonic components of the auditory brainstem response. We also found a delayed response to the early transient aspects of the auditory stimulus in amusics. Neural measures of spectral amplitude and response timing correlated with participants' behavioral assessments of music processing. We demonstrate, for the first time, that amusia affects how complex acoustic signals are processed in the auditory brainstem. This neural signature of amusia mirrors what is observed in musicians, such that the aspects of the auditory brainstem responses that are enhanced in musicians are degraded in amusics. By showing that gradients of music abilities are reflected in the auditory brainstem, our findings have implications not only for current models of amusia but also for auditory functioning in general. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
European Journal of Neuroscience 04/2015; 42(1). DOI:10.1111/ejn.12931 · 3.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Selective attention decreases trial-to-trial variability in cortical auditory-evoked activity. This effect increases over the course of maturation, potentially reflecting the gradual development of selective attention and inhibitory control. Work in adults indicates that music training may alter the development of this neural response characteristic, especially over brain regions associated with executive control: in adult musicians, attention decreases variability in auditory-evoked responses recorded over prefrontal cortex to a greater extent than in nonmusicians. We aimed to determine whether this musician-associated effect emerges during childhood, when selective attention and inhibitory control are under development. We compared cortical auditory-evoked variability to attended and ignored speech streams in musicians and nonmusicians across three age groups: preschoolers, school-aged children and young adults. Results reveal that childhood music training is associated with reduced auditory-evoked response variability recorded over prefrontal cortex during selective auditory attention in school-aged child and adult musicians. Preschoolers, on the other hand, demonstrate no impact of selective attention on cortical response variability and no musician distinctions. This finding is consistent with the gradual emergence of attention during this period and suggests no pre-existing differences in this attention-related cortical metric between children who undergo music training from those who do not.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Click-evoked auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) are a valuable tool for probing auditory system function and development. Although it has long been thought that the human auditory brainstem is fully mature by age 2 yr, recent evidence indicates a prolonged developmental trajectory.
The purpose of this study was to determine the time course of ABR maturation in a preschool population and fill a gap in the knowledge of development.
Using a cross-sectional design, we investigated the effect of age on absolute latencies, interwave latencies, and amplitudes (waves I, III, V) of the click-evoked ABR.
A total of 71 preschoolers (ages 3.12-4.99 yr) participated in the study. All had normal peripheral auditory function and IQ.
ABRs to a rarefaction click stimulus presented at 31/sec and 80 dB SPL (73 dB nHL) were recorded monaurally using clinically-standard recording and filtering procedures while the participant sat watching a movie. Absolute latencies, interwave latencies, and amplitudes were then correlated to age.
Developmental changes were restricted to absolute latencies. Wave V latency decreased significantly with age, whereas wave I and III latencies remained stable, even in this restricted age range.
The ABR does not remain static after age 2 yr, as seen by a systematic decrease in wave V latency between ages 3 and 5 yr. This finding suggests that the human brainstem has a continued developmental time course during the preschool years. Latency changes in the age 3-5 yr range should be considered when using ABRs as a metric of hearing health.
American Academy of Audiology.
Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 01/2015; 26(1):30-5. DOI:10.3766/jaaa.26.1.4 · 1.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Children from disadvantaged backgrounds often face impoverished auditory environments, such as greater exposure to ambient noise and fewer opportunities to participate in complex language interactions during development. These circumstances increase their risk for academic failure and dropout. Given the academic and neural benefits associated with musicianship, music training may be one method for providing auditory enrichment to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We followed a group of primary-school students from gang reduction zones in Los Angeles, CA, USA for 2 years as they participated in Harmony Project. By providing free community music instruction for disadvantaged children, Harmony Project promotes the healthy development of children as learners, the development of children as ambassadors of peace and understanding, and the development of stronger communities. Children who were more engaged in the music program-as defined by better attendance and classroom participation-developed stronger brain encoding of speech after 2 years than their less-engaged peers in the program. Additionally, children who were more engaged in the program showed increases in reading scores, while those less engaged did not show improvements. The neural gains accompanying music engagement were seen in the very measures of neural speech processing that are weaker in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our results suggest that community music programs such as Harmony Project provide a form of auditory enrichment that counteracts some of the biological adversities of growing up in poverty, and can further support community-based interventions aimed at improving child health and wellness.
Frontiers in Psychology 12/2014; 5:1403. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01403 · 2.80 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Musical training during childhood has been linked to more robust encoding of sound later in life. We take this as evidence for an auditory reserve: a mechanism by which individuals capitalize on earlier life experiences to promote auditory processing. We assert that early auditory experiences guide how the reserve develops and is maintained over the lifetime. Experiences that occur after childhood, or which are limited in nature, are theorized to affect the reserve, although their influence on sensory processing may be less long-lasting and may potentially fade over time if not repeated. This auditory reserve may help to explain individual differences in how individuals cope with auditory impoverishment or loss of sensorineural function.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phonological skills are enhanced by music training, but the mechanisms enabling this cross-domain enhancement remain unknown. To explain this cross-domain transfer, we propose a precise auditory timing hypothesis (PATH) whereby entrainment practice is the core mechanism underlying enhanced phonological abilities in musicians. Both rhythmic synchronization and language skills such as consonant discrimination, detection of word and phrase boundaries, and conversational turn-taking rely on the perception of extremely fine-grained timing details in sound. Auditory-motor timing is an acoustic feature which meets all five of the pre-conditions necessary for cross-domain enhancement to occur (Patel, 2011, 2012, 2014). There is overlap between the neural networks that process timing in the context of both music and language. Entrainment to music demands more precise timing sensitivity than does language processing. Moreover, auditory-motor timing integration captures the emotion of the trainee, is repeatedly practiced, and demands focused attention. The PATH predicts that musical training emphasizing entrainment will be particularly effective in enhancing phonological skills.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 11/2014; 8:949. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00949 · 2.90 Impact Factor