Similar cerebral networks in language, music and song perception

Neuroimage. 2010 May 15;51(1):450-61. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.02.023. Epub 2010 Feb 13.


Two fMRI experiments were conducted using song to investigate the domain specificity of linguistic and musical processing. In Experiment 1, participants listened to pairs of spoken words, "vocalise" (i.e., singing without words), and sung words while performing a same-different task. Results revealed bilateral involvement of middle and superior temporal gyri and inferior and middle frontal gyri while listening to spoken words, sung words and vocalise, although to different degrees. In Experiment 2, participants listened to pairs of sung words that were similar or different in terms of the linguistic and musical dimensions (2x2 factorial event-related design) while performing a same-different task. Results showed widespread interactions between the linguistic and musical dimensions of sung words mainly within the network of brain areas identified in Experiment 1. Consequently, the activity in these brain regions cannot be considered as specific to either language or music processing. Taken together, results of both experiments argue against domain specificity and provide additional evidence for a common cerebral network involved in both lexical/phonological and melodic processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Music*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Phonation
  • Speech
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult