• Musical training and semantic integration in sentence processing: Tales of the unexpected

      Featherstone, C.R.; Morrison, Catriona M.; Waterman, M.G.; MacGregor, L.J. (2014)
      Building on models of transfer effects between musical training and language processing and on evidence of similarities in the way the brain responds to unexpected elements in music and language, we investigated whether effects of musical training could be observed at the level of sentence processing. Using sentences that tax the semantic processes involved in natural comprehension and avoid outright anomalies, we showed a striking difference between musicians and non-musicians: contrary to non-musicians, musicians showed no N400 response to novel metaphorical words which were more difficult to integrate semantically into their context than literal controls. This difference between musicians and non-musicians in semantic processing in sentences shows an effect of musicianship at the highest level of music–language transfer effects demonstrated so far in the literature. As well as adding to the growing body of evidence surrounding the relationship between musical training and language processing, this work provides support for theories which suggest shared resources, computations, and neural areas underpinning the high-level processing of music and language.