Development and Music

Human Development Across the Life Span


Levitin (2006) Chapter 7 - what makes a musician: Expertise dissected.

Introduction of Sinatra's ability to give a good performance, making use of his own idiosyncratic style of emotional expression, rhythm and pitch.

What do music lesson do?
 - They teach us to listen better and accelerate abilities to discern structure and form in music.

- Is there a neurological basis to the development of musicians?

"Talent" as described by Howe, Davidson & Sloboda:
    1) has an origin in genetics (innate abilities)
    2) is identifiable at an early age (by trained people)
    3) can be used to predict who will excel
    4) is possessed by only a few (special) individuals

 There appears to be both a genetic and environmental component to the development of talent, where children with a variety of abilities can be exposed to different levels of training. Genetics may give some basic processing abilities to learn faster than others if not being born with specific talents (see math, language, sports etc).

Gottfried Schlang discusses Absolute Pitch (AP) indicating there are differences in the Planum Temporale where it is larger in those with AP. It is unclear if this is due to genetics or experience.

(Sacks also discusses it indicating that 1) it involves the labeling of the notes as well as the perception and that Chinese people -tonal language speakers- tend to have a higher frequency of AP individuals. He also indicates that AP can shift from "pure" to 1/4 tone off.)

Neural plasticity is involved to some degree, where experience is believed to change the brain circuits.

Similarly those who play violin tend to have a larger area in right motor cortex that corresponds to the left hand as revealed by Thomas Elbert.

This shows that practice is very important to the development of neurological and performance components.

Sloboda suggests that 10,000 hours is required to "make it" to the level of expert which is the equivalent to 3 hrs/day or 20 hrs/week over a period of ten years.

Repetition and the "laying down" of memory traces in neurological circuits leading to automatization (Logan).

Caring about music is another important component where pleasure from music is likely to lead a greater focus and attention to subtle tones and nuances of music.

Mozart reportedly wrote his first symphony at age 4 (actually age 8) showed signs of great talent early in life, although it is hard to determine if this was due to innate abilities or the task-master father he had.

Twins studies is a way to examine the relative contributions of genetics and environment, although even identical twins don't share the same pre-natal environment.

Explanations for similarities among MZ twins raised apart can be 1) statistical coincidence or 2) social treatment (being treated a certain way by others due to looks or voice or size of hands).

Stick-to-it-ness or perseverance in spite of failures is a characteristic of those who develop great talent since we all fail at times.

Do we teach technical abilities or "meaning" performance abilities? It appears that mostly the technical is emphasized, although many suggest that the emotional/meaning component is very important (i.e., Stevie Wonder -getting in a "frame of heart" before performing).

lack of formal training is not always an issues as with Francis Crick and Joni Mitchell, both of whom used their 'freedom" to develop their own characteristic methods and break-throughs. Joni states that bass players always want to know the root, but she would encourage them to "feel it out" and play around the scales often writing complex chords and melodies.

Musical memory is also important as we tend to learn in phrases and sequences of notes, not just along whole sequence (as in Williams syndrome).

Learning music, like other things we make use of chunking to organize information into meaningful units to be placed together into a greater whole.

All in all, being an expert involves:

-dexterity at playing a musical instrument
-emotional connection
-special mental structures for remembering music
-exposure to the musical cultures' schemas or grammar as well as aesthetic experience.

Peretz & Zatorre (2009)

Chapter 1 - Musical predispositions in infancy.
                Trehub (p. 3).

Begins with a critique of Steven Pinker's "language instinct" which describes music as "auditory cheesecake"

Points out that he fails to acknowledge the distinction between competence and performance

-yes all "normals" acquire language but they also are able to sing a in tune.
-we also see developmental disorders of language and music
-training and practice are required for music learning, but also language (hours per day)
-underestimates variations in language ability (as with music)
-offers an ethnocentric perspective on music (movie scores, dance etc) rather than ritual and the fabric of history (oral memory)

Miller indicates that:

1) all cultures have music (universal)
2) development of musical abilities is orderly
3) widespread abilities - all adults appreciate and can carry a tune
4) adults can recognize 1000s of melodies
5) special purpose cortical mechanisms are present
6) analogous signals & songs from other species
7) music can evoke strong emotions
> therefore music is a complex biological adaptation

 Uncovering musical predispositions

Infants display relational processing of pitch and duration.
Infants can process frequency, timing and timbre more finely than is required by music and they possess perceptual grouping (gestalt) mechanisms.

Interval processing
Adults maintain and process pitch interval distances as needed for absolute pitch (AP)
Infants can detect interval changes (i.e. semitone) for melodies from their culture to be, but not from others.

6-10 month old infant can detect the perfect fifth (7semitones) or the fourth (five semitone) and the octave, but not the dissonant tritone (six-semitones).  Suggesting that we are innately "tuned" to experience certain ratios.

Processing of scale structure
9-month old infants compared with adults on major scale and two artificial scales (fig 1.2) finding that the unequal scales are superior to recognition than the equal scales.

Temporal Processing
Clearly distinction of identical tones through rhythm groupings especially for regular, rather than syncopated rhythms.

Hemispheric Specialization
Long before language is developed infants show right ear dominance for language and left ear dominance for music. 8-month olds show left-ear superiority for contour processingand right-ear superiority for interval processing.

Maternal Music

Lullabies and play songs are typical for caregivers to sing, adults can recognize other cultures' lullabies with ease even from non-lullaby tunes.

Adults alter their performance to sing to infants through raised pitch, decreased tempo, and emotive voice quality.

Often the songs will also be tailored to the specific age of the child, eg. one semitone higher for infant vs pre-school audiences.

Responsiveness to maternal music
In newborn period infants will respond longer to infant-directed singing than other forms.

6-month old infants view and hear videotaped speech and singing exhibit greater visual fixations and reduced behaviour to singing than to speech. (Fig1.4)

Saliva samples of cortisol (stress hormone) taken in responses to speech and music show that maternal singing can alter arousal in distressed and non-distressed infants (Fig1.5) with singing lasting longer than the 20 minutes factor for speech.

Tooby & Cosmides report that there is an evolutionary function for this early development that aides in later brain development including mate selection.

Chapter 3 - Mechanisms of musical memory in infancy.
                Saffran (p.32)

Based upon the modularity of mind, examination of linguistic and musical abilities and the integration of both.

Music and language seen as parallel processes sometimes overlap and used together as in tonal languages (Mandarin, Thai, Vietnamese).

Language has melodic component (prosody) that appears to be involved in musical memory abilities as we acquire a "native" musical system (culture).

We know that infants prefer consonant intervals (octave, perfect 5th), rhythm, have ability to discern relational and absolute pitch as well as phrase boundaries.

As we develop a "native language" we also develop native musical knowledge, responding to phonological and grammatical generalizations in the form of "representations" or memory traces.

Infant have basic processes to discern melodic structure, harmonic structure & rhythm, later learn key, tempo, instrument identification (timbre) and these will be neurally encoded.

7 - month acquire new words with only few exposures appear to have genetic structure for learning music where young infants show a preference for novel melodies with tonal conventions.

Chapter 13 - Brain specialization for music: new evidence from congenital amusia.
                Peretz (p. 181)

Chapter 23 - Functional organization and plasticity of auditory cortex.
                Rauschecker (p. 357)

Chapter 28 - Does exposure to music have beneficial side effects?
                Schellenberg (p. 430)

The "Mozart Effect" is actually two distinct phenomena

1) Short-tem improvements in spatial abilities said to occur from listening to Mozart's music.
2) The possibility that that formal training in music leads to non-musical benefits.

The short-term effects appear to be small and unreliable and may be due to between condition arousal or mood variances.

The longer-term effect of music training on other abilities such as linguistic, mathematical and spatial is  still under investigation, showing some promise.

Music and non-musical abilities

Passive listening to music bears little resemblance to formal training, which may have a bigger impact

Primary issues is one of "transfer"  of training from old to new situations and also of "priming" or experience of one stimulus leads to altered experience of related ones.

Transfer and Priming

Positive transfer is when previous problem solving experience leads to better performance in new  problems, while negative transfer refers to a decrement in performance on new problems, also called interference (pro or retroactive).

Priming can be seen as a low-level or short-term form of transfer in either the positive or negative form. Repetition priming is a common way to look at categorization and labeling, including deeper or semantic processing. This can even be seen across languages for bilinguals eg spanish prime leads to faster recognition of English word.

The Mozart effect

Rauscher et al' claim that 10 minutes of Mozart sonata leads to short-term enhanced spatial abilities.

Original study claimed that 1) Mozart vs. 2) relaxation sounds (Phillip Glass) or 3) silence lead to 8 point increase in IQ.

Spatial task is the paper-folding and cutting test (PF&C) given to the three groups.

Rauscher et al's study made the claim of transfer from passive listening to active visualization, however Schellenberg indicates that the temporal / non-temporal distinction cannot why replications  failed.

Schellenberg uses the theory of changes in arousal or mood based upon various studies

Nantais & Schellenberg replicated and extended the study by giving PF&C test after:
    1) 10 minutes of Mozart,
    2) 10 minutes of Schubert or
    3) 10 minutes of silence
They used computer presentation in order to avoid experimenter bias

Fig 28.1 shows the results where both Mozart and Schubert had "effects" that were also reflected in the listener's preference of story vs. Mozart (Fig 28.2).

Conclusions are that the elevation of mood / arousal led to the differences not spatial relations transfer.

Assumption is that the dopamine reward system (ventral tegmental) and projections to the pre-frontal cortex plays a role in this activation.

Thompson, Schllenberg & Husain tested mood of music and PF&C test finding that the Mozart sonata showed a positive effect vs. Adagio by Albinoni (sad) played on same cd by same musicians. Fig 28.3  Fig28.4.

They also discuss the long term effects of music lessons, citing a variety of studies that show:

- a positive relationships between musical matching and spatial / graphic representations (although age is an important factor here).

-Reading and phonemic awareness was associated with pitch discrimination

-positive correlation between music aptitude scores and spearman's "g" scores

-Kodaly music training and increased scores on spatial abilities as well as stroop test Blue, Green...

-Kodaly method with 6 year olds and increased math and reading abilities

-10 minute piano lessons for 6 months among 4 year olds led to better spatial abilities

-Preschoolers exposed to music training had better pre-reading and math skills

-music lessons were associated with IQ even when SES, parental education and non-musical extracurricular activities were controlled. Fig 28.5

Sacks - Musicophilia

Part II.     A Range of Musicality

    7. Sense and sensibility
    8. Amusia & Dysharmonia
    9. Absolute Pitch
    10. Cochlear Amusia
    11. Living in Stereo
    12. Musical Savants
    13. Music & Blindness
    14. Synesthesia and Music