Early Influence of Musical Abilities and Working Memory on Speech Imitation Abilities: Study with Pre-School Children

Brain Sci. 2018 Sep 1;8(9):169. doi: 10.3390/brainsci8090169.


Musical aptitude and language talent are highly intertwined when it comes to phonetic language ability. Research on pre-school children's musical abilities and foreign language abilities are rare but give further insights into the relationship between language and musical aptitude. We tested pre-school children's abilities to imitate unknown languages, to remember strings of digits, to sing, to discriminate musical statements and their intrinsic (spontaneous) singing behavior ("singing-lovers versus singing nerds"). The findings revealed that having an ear for music is linked to phonetic language abilities. The results of this investigation show that a working memory capacity and phonetic aptitude are linked to high musical perception and production ability already at around the age of 5. This suggests that music and (foreign) language learning capacity may be linked from childhood on. Furthermore, the findings put emphasis on the possibility that early developed abilities may be responsible for individual differences in both linguistic and musical performances.

Keywords: intrinsic singing; musical aptitude; phonetic language aptitude; singing ability; working memory.