Syntactic processing in language and music: Behavioral and electrophysiological studies

Open Access
Author:
Ting, Caitlin Yeh-Shan
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
July 22, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Janet van Hell, Dissertation Advisor
  • Janet van Hell, Committee Chair
  • Judith Kroll, Committee Member
  • Suzy Scherf, Committee Member
  • Carrie Jackson, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • psycholinguistics
  • syntactic processing
  • music cognition
  • bilingualism
  • event-related potentials
Abstract:
Language and music are multi-modal sensory systems which humans are exposed to on a daily basis. Both of these systems are characterized as possessing syntax, or a set of principles that dictate how the smallest discrete syntactic units (e.g., words or musical notes) can be combined to form larger elements (e.g., sentences or chord progressions). According to the Shared Syntactic Integration Resource Hypothesis (Patel, 2003; 2008), these syntactic units in language and music are stored in distinct neural regions from one another, whereas the resources used to process syntax in language are the same as those used to process syntax in music. In the present dissertation, I used behavioral and electrophysiological (event-related potentials) methodologies to test the Shared Syntactic Integration Resource Hypothesis (SSIRH) and examine whether cognitive control is used to process syntax in music, and whether intensive prior experience with syntactic management (Experiments 1A and 1B) and auditory processing (Experiment 2) in language and music can influence how cognitive control is engaged during syntactic processing in music. Moreover, I examined whether different syntactic structures within and across language and music engage similar cognitive resources, as well as whether the time course of syntactic processing is similar or different for these structures in language and music (Experiment 3). The three experiments in the present dissertation did not find evidence to conclusively support the Shared Syntactic Integration Resource Hypothesis. It appears that cognitive control, as measured by the adapted Stroop task, was not engaged during syntactic processing in music. Furthermore, it appears that different syntactic structures within and across language and music engage different processing resources. In sum, the present behavioral and electrophysiological findings add to the growing body of literature suggesting that the Shared Syntactic Integration Resource Hypothesis needs to be updated to better be able to predict the nuances of syntactic processing in language and music.