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date: 06 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Music and language represent ubiquitous and complex cognitive systems. In evolutionary theories the idea of far-reaching similarities and a common evolutionary precursor of music and language has a long tradition. Many core characteristics of language, denoted as “design features,” are shared with music. Conversely, most “design features” of music are also applicable to language. The relationship between music and language is particularly strong in early infancy. The main focus of the present chapter is on the relationship between language and music, and evidence of overlapping neurophysiological, perceptual, and cognitive resources underlying this relationship. The chapter provides an overview of three processing stages where an overlap between music and language is well documented: (1) subcortical processing, (2) processing of complex auditory features (such as contours or rhythm), and (3) syntax processing. For another stage, processing of semantics, similarities between music and language are a matter of debate.

Keywords: music, language, syntax, semantics, neurophysiological, cognitive, perceptual

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