Abstract: Exploring music's links to language

Exploring music's links to language

J H McDermott

Published in Nature Neuroscience, vol.11(4), pp. 377, Apr 2008.

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  • Nearly everyone who has written about music from a scientific perspective has alluded to its possible relationship with language. The superficial resemblance is clear: music and language both combine discrete elements (notes or phonemes) according to rules to yield complex structures. Both faculties are also unique to humans, and both have generated longstanding interest in their origins and brain basis. Many have speculated that language circuitry might have been co-opted for music, whereas others have proposed that music was the evolutionary precursor to language. Demonstrations of links between music and language, or the lack thereof, thus seem likely to clarify fundamental questions surrounding both domains.
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